The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), also known as the National Grand Theatre and colloquially described as the “Giant Egg”, is located in the heart of old Beijing, immediately to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and close to the Forbidden City. The building shows a new and unique design, with the combination of the traditional and the modern and the blend of romance and reality. It is the largest architecture with a vaulted roof in the world.
(The National Centre for the Performing Arts with the Great Hall of the People in the background)
The National Centre for the Performing Arts, designed by French architect Paul Andreu, was completed in December 2007. The ellipsoid dome measures 212.2 meters in east–west direction, 143.64 meters in north–south direction and is 46.68 meters high. It is composed of 18,398 strong titanium metal plates and 1,226 colored glass screens of varying sizes. A theatrical motif can be seen in its exterior: the outer titanium shell is broken by a glass curtain in north-south direction that gradually widens from top to bottom, like a rising stage curtain. The main architectural structure is surrounded by an artificial lake, which is encircled by the Culture Leisure Square covered with green lawns. Viewing from a distance, the whole building is like floating on water and the ellipse exterior resembles a “pearl on the lake”.
Covering an area of 217,500 square meters, the NCPA consists of the Opera House, the Concert Hall, the Theatre, the Multi-functional Theatre, the Olive Hall, exhibition halls and a huge lobby.
The main entrance in the north of the Centre is an 80-m-long underground corridor; and the southern entrance and other passages are all underwater. Before entering the Centre, you can experience the wonderful feeling of walking under water.
The magnificent Opera House, at the center of the building, is the NCPA’s largest venue with 2,398 seats including the venue of SRO. It boasts the most advanced staging equipment and is mainly used to stage operas, dance dramas, ballets, and large-scale shows.
Exuding an air of serenity and refinement, the silver white Concert Hall is the venue mainly for large symphonic and national music performances. The Concert Hall can seat 2,019 people including the venue of SRO, and you can enjoy all performances from any angle. The Concert Hall is also home to a giant pipe organ, the “Hall Guardian”, which is believed to be the largest of its kind in China with 94 stops and an impressive array of 6,500 pipes.
The 1,035-seat (with the venue of SRO included) Theatre is equipped with hi-tech, theatrical staging and audio visual equipments. It mainly hosts modern dramas, Peking Opera and traditional Chinese operas.
When night falls, the silver-colored oval theatre surrounded by crystal clear water looks magically enchanting, with titanium metal plates and the glass shell reflect the rays of the evening sun in fluid colors. Now, the dreamlike National Centre for the Performing Arts has become a symbolized cultural facility of Beijing.
Add: No.2 West Chang’an Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing.
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday & National Holidays: 9:00-17:00 (admission before 16:30). Closed on Mondays
Getting there: You can take Subway Line One and get off at Tiananmen West Station.