The Palais Garnier


“The New Opera House, a most sumptuous edifice bearing the inscription ‘Académie Nationale de Musique,’ designed by Garnier, begun in 1861, and completed in 1874. In point of size, it is now the largest theatre in the world, covering altogether an area 13,596 sq. yds. (nearly three acres); but it contains seats for 2156 persons only…Nothing can surpass the magnificence of the materials with which the building is lavishly decorated, and for which the whole of Europe has been laid under contribution. Sweden and Scotland have yielded a supply of green and red granite, from Italy have been brought the yellow and white marbles, from Finland red porphyry, from Spain ‘brocatello,’ and from different parts of France other marbles of various colours….Begun under the auspices of the second Empire, the work has been most successfully completed by the Republic.” — Paris and its Environs written by Karl Baedeker in 1878

“The principal facade, which is approached by a broad flight of steps, consists of three stories. On the ground-floor is the Portico with its seven arches…form(ing) the principal entrances. Flanking each of these are two large groups of statuary…Dance by Carpeaux….though admirably executed, has been severely and justly criticised for the sensuality of its style….In the centre of the building rises a low dome (visible from a distance only), and behind it a huge triangular pediment, above the stage, crowned with an Apollo with a golden lyre…by Millet.” — Paris and its Environs written by Karl Baedeker in 1878

“As far as the first landing…the (Grand) staircase is single, being about 32 ft.  in width…The steps are of white marble, and the balustrades of rosso antico, with a hand-rail formed of Algerian onyx. Each landing is furnished with a balcony from which the visitor may conveniently survey the interesting scene presented by the passing throng. The 24 coloured marble columns which separate these balconies, grouped in pairs, rise to the height of the third floor….The Grand Foyer, the most striking feature of the Opera House, extends throughout the whole length of the building….The decorations look as if made of solid gold…The chief embellishment of the hall, however, consists of paintings by Baudry, the effect of which is unfortunately marred by the glare of the lights and the profuseness of the gilding.” — Paris and its Environs written by Karl Baedeker in 1878.“The Salle, or theatre itself, fitted up in the most elaborate style, is so overladen with decoration and colour, that, with the exception of the four marble figures flanking the ‘Avant-scènes,’ much excellent work is almost overlooked from want of contrast. The boxes, of which there are four tiers, all equally well fitted up, are divided into seven bays by eight huge columns. The gallery, forming a fifth story, is hardly visible….The red and gold curtain displays excellent taste, being unadorned with painting.” — Paris and its Environs written by Karl Baedeker in 1878

“There are 2,531 doors and 7,593 keys; 14 furnaces and 450 grates heat the house; the gaspipes if connected would form a pipe almost 16 miles long; 9 reservoirs, and two tanks hold 22,222 gallons of water and distribute their contents through 22,829 2 – 5 feet of piping; 538 persons have places assigned to change their attire. The musicians have a foyer with 100 closets for their instruments.” — Scribner’s Magazine, 1879

“In order to convey a more precise idea of the costliness of the undertaking, we may add that no fewer than between four  and five hundred houses had to be removed for the purpose of obtaining a site for the Place and the Opera House…” — Paris and its Environs written by Karl Baedeker in 1878

  The Palais Garnier today

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