The Theatre of the Estates is one of the most beautiful historic theatre buildings in Europe. The aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck, fired by a desire to enhance the charm of his native city and the minds of his fellow citizens, had this edifice built. It took not quite two years to construct and the theatre was officially opened in 1783 with a first performance of the tragedy Emilia Galotti by Lessing. Originally the theatre was dubbed Count Nostitz’s Theatre. This exceptional project for Prague of the time corresponded to the prevailing spirit at the end of 18th century when national theatres were being built at European courts, in towns and cultural centres in keeping with the visions of enlightenment promoted by facilitating general access to theatres, considered to be moral institutions demonstrating the cultural standard of a nation. The inscription above the portal reads Patriae et Musis - To the Native Land and the Muses. This motto serves as a proof of the founder’s original intention and has lost none of its validity to this day. When this theatre was linked to the National Theatre, the latter’s motto “The Nation Unto Itself” became a natural complement to the former.
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