Famous Ceilings: Teatro Nacional

Written by Milan Jara

The National Theatre of Costa Rica, or Teatro Nacional, is a great place to visit while on vacation in this tropical paradise. Locals and tourists can attend a showing, concert, or play, or attend any day to view any number of works of art. One of the most interesting pieces is the gorgeous, but historically inaccurate, depiction of Costa Rican life.

The Construction of a Lavish Theater

The construction of the theater seemed to be a comedy of errors. First, a tax on coffee was made to pay for the theater, which was the main export of the time, and upset many local planters. Next, there were several problems during construction, which led the process to take about seven years. Finally, the theater was opened to the public in 1897. Many of the lavish décor and artwork was based on largely European influences with a neoclassical facade. Ludwig Van Beethoven and Calderón de la Barca are depicted as statues in the front of the theater. As a revered public building in San José, this building is a very popular destination for tourists. If you happen to visit, be sure to visit the marble lobby and the grand auditorium areas.

Beautiful, but Factually Inaccurate

One of the many paintings on the ceiling, Alegoría al Café y al Banano, or Allegory of Coffee and Bananas, is famous for being factually inaccurate as well as beautiful. It was done by the Italian painter Aleardo Villa, who seemed to have never actually witness the joyful, idyllic harvest scene he had depicted. Coffee is harvested in the mountains and not near the coast, for instance. Also, the bananas are typically held by the stem over the shoulders, and not awkwardly held at the middle. The painting was produced in Italy and shipped to Costa Rica. The image was reproduced on a now out-of-print note, which is often sold to tourists.


- Milan Jara

Buy Ceiling Tiles in Bulk & Get 10% - 15% off + Free Shipping Buy Now

Buy Ceiling Tiles in Bulk & Get 10% - 15% off + Free Shipping

Buy Now
Need Help