S. João National Theatre

Praça da Batalha (Teatro Nacional S. João)

Officially inaugurated on May 13, 1798, it was the first building built from scratch in Porto, exclusively for the presentation of shows. The initiative was taken by Corregedor Francisco de Almada e Mendonça and a group of private shareholders, the Real Teatro de São João, and was built on the project of the Italian architect and scenographer Vincenzo Mazzoneschi.

Initially, the activity of the Real Teatro de São João was linked to the world of Italian opera, with a monopoly of performances in the city until the end of the 19th century. Destroyed by a fire in 1908, the public tender for its reconstruction was launched in that same year, from which the preliminary project signed by José Marques da Silva, considered “the last classic architect and the first modern architect of Porto”, was the winner.

At the time of its construction, the Teatro de São João represented a compromise between technical innovation and the stylistic continuity of a traditional taste. In 1932, just twelve years after its inauguration (March 1920), and following the decadence of the theatrical activity in the city, it was renamed São João Cine, dedicating most of its programming to cinema exhibition. The building was forgotten and entered a phase of progressive degradation.

It was acquired by the State in October 1992 and inaugurated about a month later under the official name of São João National Theatre. Restored, remodeled and refurbished, according to the architect João Carreira’s project, between 1993 and 1995, it returned to a regular artistic activity.