If you’re a lover of the arts, you must visit the Palais Garnier or Paris’ old Opera House. It was used as the setting for the 1910 novel, The Phantom of the Opera.
Designed by an unknown architect, Charles Garnier, it was built by the finest craftsmen of the day. The project requested by Napoleon III (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte), took 14 years to complete and was finished in 1875. Sadly Napoleon III died before its completion.
Today Paris has a much newer opera house, but this one is still used for performances, houses a museum and a library; and of course is open to public for tours.
I’ll begin with the exterior of the building – quite impressive in itself. There is plenty of opportunity to get a photo of the entire facade of the building although it seems to be a favourite hangout spot. There are often buskers playing here.
Those gold statues on the roof are magnificent.
Zoom in to see the two gilded figural groups by Charles Gumery. The left group represents Harmony with Poetry on the right. The sculptural group at the apex of the dome represents Apollo holding a lyre, Poetry and Music and is the work of Aime Millet.
Bronze busts between the columns represent famous musicians of the past such as Beethoven and Mozart.
Around to the left is the library and museum of the Paris Opera. This was specifically built as a private access via a double ramp for the Emperor and other dignitaries who did not wish to enter via the front doors. Make your way around here to see the beautiful doorway with its sculptures; balustrades, doors, and columns.
The goddess lights were also impressive. There is also a bust of Charles Garnier, the architect who designed the building.
Once inside, we took the option of a self-guided tour as it gave us more time to just wander at our own pace.
The Grand Foyer, a hall 54 metres long and 13 metres wide was the gathering place for patrons before the shows.
So much gold and gilt here with another impressive fresco showing the history of music and comedy. Stand at both ends of the foyer for different photos. So amazingly beautiful.
Step outside to the Loggia. This offers views down the Avenue de l’Opera. The ceiling, side columns and lamps complete a very ornate passageway.
The Grand Staircase leading up to the Auditorium will certainly stop you in your tracks.
Where to start taking photos. It was beautifully lit to suit the mood of the place, but did present some photographic challenges.
When you look at images of when the place was built around 150 years ago, it’s wonderful to think that you are actually standing in that same place with all of the opulence still intact.
The staircase was built of white and green marble, onyx and antique red marble.
Each of the 30 columns are made from a single piece of marble.
Look up to the magnificent ceiling to see the fresco painted by Isidore Pils.
The pedestals at the bottom of the staircase are decorated with two female “torcheres” holding bouquets of light.
Take your time going up the stairs, look up and turn around to look back down. Visit those little balconies as well. We were lucky there were only a handful of tourists visiting that day.
Like the Grand Hall, every inch of this place is photo worthy.
The 5-tiered auditorium has around 2,000 seats and the world’s biggest stage accommodating up to 450 artists. Decorated in red velvet and gold leaf, it is a sight to behold.
The giant chandelier which consists of over 300 lights, was designed by Garnier, and weighs seven tons.
Throughout the place are many rooms with more lights, ceilings, frescoes and gilded decor.
So many patterned floors.
To say we were overwhelmed by the grandeur of this place would be an understatement. One of our favourite places we visited in Paris.
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