National Theatre magnet
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The National Theatre in Prague is an embodiment of the Czech nation’s endeavour for independence and sovereignty. Built owing to the funds raised among the general population, the laying of its foundation stone on 16 May 1868 was a national political manifestation. The land purchased for the theatre predetermined its magnificent location on the bank of the river Vltava facing the panorama of Prague Castle, yet the cramped area and trapezoidal shape posed great challenges for the building’s designers. Before the finishing touches were completed, the theatre was badly damaged by a fire, and the work had to start anew.
The stage director and playwright Jaroslav Kvapil described the disaster: "The twelfth of August 1881 – a fire at the National Theatre! It was a Friday, the darkest Friday of our modern-time national history. We in the countryside only received the news at noon on Saturday; and I can still see my father, sitting devastated by the table, head in hands, and mum weeping in the corner.”