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Mission and History

Welcome to Teatro São Luiz!

Celebrating 130 years, São Luiz is today a Theater open to national and international artistic creation, thought and knowledge. A place for the exchange of ideas, its programming includes theater, dance and music shows, film screenings, debates and conversations. Integrated into EGEAC – Equipment Management and Cultural Entertainment Company and belonging to the Lisbon City Council since 1971, Teatro São Luiz assumes a cultural, social and democratic commitment to the city of Lisbon and to all the people who live or visit it. . With a policy of accessibility and appreciation of material and immaterial heritage and a broad discount policy, it seeks a diverse and plural audience, making every effort to welcome them in the best possible way.


There are three stages at São Luiz, in rooms with different characteristics and capable of hosting different formats. The Luis Miguel Cintra Room, until 2016 known as the Main Room, has Italian architecture, consisting of first and second seats, friezes, first and second balconies, and boxes. Designed for large presentations, it has a maximum capacity of 683 spectators, a large stage and an orchestra pit. With its golds and reds, its huge and unmistakable chandelier and its painted ceiling, it maintains the late 19th century charm with which São Luiz opened its doors and dazzled the city in 1894.

The Mário Viegas Room, formerly the Theatre-Studio, is São Luiz’s black box. With a smaller stage, it has a front audience with a maximum capacity of 102 spectators, which can be removed to create a larger and more unique space.

The Bernardo Sassetti Room, formerly the Winter Garden, renamed in 2017, is the most versatile and informal room in São Luiz. With the possibility of having a stage installed, the capacity can reach 270 spectators, who can be seated in an audience. The natural light, which enters through the huge windows, the iron and glass roof and the original painting by scenographer Luigi Manini make it unique among all concert halls.

Prepared to receive visitors, spectators or artists with specific needs, the São Luiz rooms, as well as the circulation spaces, have been designed to welcome all audiences, extending this policy to the outside of the Theatre, where there is a public parking space for people with reduced mobility. Accessibility extends to the shows presented at São Luiz, which have sessions with interpretation in Portuguese Sign Language and sessions with Audio Description.

Reopened to the public on November 30, 2002, as we know it today, the São Luiz Teatro Municipal has more than 100 years of history since its opening on May 22, 1894. That year, fulfilling a project by the French architect Louis- Ernest Reynaud modified in Lisbon by Emílio Rossi and with a fresco by scenographer Luigi Manini, it was inaugurated as Theatro D. Amélia, on the eighth anniversary of the queen’s marriage to D. Carlos I. The premiere was with the operetta The Drum-Major’s Daughter (A Filha do Tambor-Mor), by Offenbach.

Two years later, small films began to be shown at the interval and at the end of the theater play on stage, becoming the second space in Portugal (after the Real Coliseu) to present cinema to the Portuguese public, at the time called Cinematographo: A Animated Photography. Eleanora Duse, Sarah Bernhardt and Palmira Bastos were some of the actresses who made waves on the stages of São Luiz at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

Renamed as Teatro República with the establishment of the Republic in 1910, it was practically completely destroyed by a huge fire four years later, on the night of September 12th to 13th, 1914. As a memory of the tragedy, it is still on stage in the Luis Miguel Cintra room the image of what is now called Saint Asbestos (São Amianto), a prop from the play on stage at the time which, it is said, was the only object saved from the fire.

With an architectural project by Tertuliano Lacerda Marques, the Theater reopens two years later. It was in 1917 that Amélia Rey Colaço debuted here and that, in April, the 1st Futurist Conference took place here, attended by Almada Negreiros and Santa-Rita Pintor.

In 1918, the Viscount of São Luiz de Braga died, and on April 14 of that year, in honor of his great promoter, the Theater was renamed Teatro São Luiz. A stage for theater shows, it also continues to be a cinema and it is here that the Portuguese see, for the first time, Metropolis, by Fritz Lang. In 1930, it became one of the first theaters to be equipped for the “Sound Cinema era”. The first Portuguese sound film, A Severa, by Leitão de Barros, premiered on June 18, 1931, at the renamed São Luiz Cine.

It was in May 1971 that the building was acquired by the Lisbon City Council, gaining the name Teatro Municipal São Luiz. Initially remaining as a cinema, it welcomed an offshoot of the D. Maria II National Theater company and gave way to a new resident company, headed by Eunice Muñoz and directed by Luiz Francisco Rebello.

After providing space, Companhia Teatral do Chiado occupied one of the rooms from 1991 onwards, naming it Teatro-Estúdio Mário Viegas. In 1999, the Theater underwent a major intervention in the stage area, dressing rooms, audience and public area, as well as restoration, leaving it with the image and functionalities it has today. In these more than two decades, São Luiz has accompanied the city of Lisbon in its cultural policy, wanting to assert itself as a forum where the public can have diverse, eclectic and differentiated access to all arts.