The round white building of the Swedish Theater, Svenska Teatern, is an important Helsinki landmark. The building and its surrounding shops, statues and parks form a relaxing area in the city center. The first theater to be built in this spot was completed in 1827, but replaced later; this wooden building burnt down, and so a new theater was constructed in 1866 after designs by Russian architect Nicholas Benois. Today, the red-and-gold décor, with its lovely boxes and columns, is still as it was in Benois' day. The exterior of the building was restored and smoothed out under the control of architects Jarl Eklund and Eero Saarinen in 1936. The theater is a landmark of the times leading up to Finnish independence; it was the venue of the first-ever performance of Sibelius' Finlandia, conducted by the composer himself. The great hall seats about 500 people, and the small hall about 100. The theater transcends the language barrier, as evidenced by the 80,000-100,000 people who attend performances held here yearly. The Swedish Theater is known for its performances of classical drama as well as its musical repertoire.
- Type: Dance, Theater
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