Spain has some of the most impressive and lauded theatres in the world. Visit the best theatres in Spain and discover some of the best annual theatre festivals.
Spain is a buzzing hub of culture and the arts. From coast to coast, Spain is dotted with some of the best indoor and open-air theatres in the world showcasing classical and contemporary Spanish and international plays. Below are some of the top theatres in Spain.
Teatro Romano de Mérida
Around 2,000 years old and supposedly Spain’s largest theatre, the open-air Roman theatre of Merida is a stunning sight. Every summer the venue’s Roman stage is filled with theatre and music, ballet, film and opera to mark the annual International Festival of Classical Theatre. There are other stages too, such as the Temple of Diana, and these are occupied by various other acts and shows during the festival.
Getting there: Mérida is in the Extremadura province of Spain and well connected to other cities such as Seville and Madrid by train or bus. If you arrive by car, take the A-66 if coming from north or south, or the A-5 if coming from Madrid. The theatre is found in Mérida’s central Plaza Margarita Xirgu.
More information: festivaldemerida.es (Spanish)
Corral de Comedias, Almagro
Another of the most famous theatres in Spain is the Corral de Comedias in Almagro, near Ciudad Real. It is often compared to London’s Globe theatre due to its old-fashioned, Shakespearean look. According to history books, the first performance took place back in 1629 and continued to be used as a theatre until some time during the 19th century, when it was bricked over in order to make way for something else. In 1953 it was dug up and reopened. The Almagro Theatre festival is held here every July and attracts theatre fans from all over the world.
Getting there: If travelling by car from Ciudad Real, follow the CM-412 all the way to Almagro which shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes. There are regular buses from Ciudad Real too. The theatre is found in Almagro’s Plaza Mayor, where all roads lead to.
More information: corraldecomedias.com (Spanish)
The Grec Theatre, Barcelona
In contrast to most other open-air theatres in Spain, the Grec Theatre in Barcelona is a relatively new establishment, having only become a theatre in 1929 after being used as a quarry for countless years. Since 1976 it has hosted the Grec Festival of Theatre each July, drawing hundreds of spectators from all over Spain. The theatre also hosts music evenings in its gardens and the occasional comedy event.
Getting there: From Poble Sec Metro Station, head south towards the Teatro Grec gardens (‘Jardins de Teatre Grec’). The walk is about 10 minutes.
More information: barcelona.cat
Teatro Español, Madrid
Although not an open-air theatre, the Teatro Español, built in the 16th century, is thought to accurately recreate the traditional, comedic feel of open-air Spanish theatres. The interior is as grandiose as it gets, and the acoustics are equally as impressive. What’s more, this Madrid theatre is more affordable when compared with other similar theaters in Madrid, with ticket prices ranging from €15–25 on its website.
Getting there: If travelling by Madrid Metro, the nearest stops to the theatre are Antón Martín (L1), Sevilla (L2) and Sol (L1, L2, L3). If arriving by car, you could take your chances or take advantage of online parking services like Parking Kong, which locates the cheapest nearby parking spaces in Madrid.
More information: teatroespanol.es (Spanish)
Teatro Alhambra, Granada
Not to be confused with the actual Alhambra – the staggering palace for which Granada is famed, perched on the hill opposite – the Teatro Alhambra is a small theatre that holds regular performances, ranging from national and Andaluz to international and Shakespeare. It is located in the beautiful Realejo barrio of Granada, and tickets are usually around €15–20.
Getting there: Teatro Alhambra is within walking distance of Plaza Nueva, Granada’s focal point. Walk into the Realejo barrio, where you will find Calle Molinos. From here just keep going, and you will find the theatre on your right.
More information: juntadeandalucia.es (Spanish)
The Arriaga Theatre, Bilbao
Discounting the Guggenheim, the Arriaga Theatre is perhaps the most important building in Bilbao. Designed by architects Joaquín Rucoba and Octavio de Toledo and opened in the late 19th century, the striking edifice was modeled on the Paris Opera House and named in honour of the Bilbao-born musician Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga.
The beautiful façade has an eclectic style, with large balconies and intricate stone carvings. It suffered a major fire not long after it opened and had to be rebuilt almost from scratch before reopening in 1919. It closed again from 1980 to allow for six years’ restoration work. It continues to host the city’s finest theatre, opera, ballet and other cultural events.
Getting there: Take the Metro to Casco Viejo or Abando and walk from there. The theatre is found in Plaza Arriaga – you can’t miss it!
More information: bilbaoturismo.net