Palais Garnier has been described as the only one that is “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank

The Palais Garnier is a 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. The Palais Garnier has been called “probably the most famous opera house in the world, a symbol of Paris like Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, or the Sacré Coeur Basilica.

Palais Garnier has been described as the only one that is “unquestionably a masterpiece of the first rank.

Main facade

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The principal facade is on the south side of the building, overlooking the Place de l’Opéra and terminates the perspective along the Avenue de l’Opéra. Fourteen painters, mosaicists and seventy-three sculptors participated in the creation of its ornamentation.

Pavillon de l’Empereur

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Also known as the Rotonde de l’Empereur, this group of rooms is located on the left (west) side of the building and was designed to allow secure and direct access by the Emperor via a double ramp to the building. When the Empire fell, work stopped, leaving unfinished dressed stonework. It now houses the Bibliothèque-Musée de l’Opéra de Paris (Paris Opera Library-Museum) which is home to nearly 600,000 documents including 100,000 books, 1,680 periodicals, 10,000 programs, letters, 100,000 photographs, sketches of costumes and sets, posters and historical administrative records.

Interior

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The interior consists of interweaving corridors, stairwells, alcoves and landings allowing the movement of large numbers of people and space for socializing during intermission. Rich with velvet, gold leaf, and cherubim and nymphs, the interior is characteristic of Baroque sumptuousness.

Grand Foyer

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This hall 18 meters high, 154 meters long and 13 meters wide was designed to act as a drawing room for Paris society. It was restored in 2004. Its ceiling was painted by Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry and represents various moments in the history of music.

Auditorium

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The auditorium has a traditional Italian horseshoe shape and can seat 1,979. The stage is the largest in Europe and can accommodate as many as 450 artists. The canvas house curtain was painted to represent a draped curtain, complete with tassels and braid.

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