The National Center for the Performing Arts (aka National Theater / NCPA)

Beijing, China

Introduction to the National Center for the Performing Arts

The giant titanium-and-glass dome west of TianAnMen Square (behind the Great Hall of the People) hosts Chinese and international art performances of the highest calibre. The complex houses an opera house, a music hall and a theater, and can seat up to 6,200. It is the flagship performance space in China. Designed by French architect Paul Andreu, it opened in 2007. The dome is 212 meters across in the east-west direction, 144 meters in the north-south direction, and is 46 meters high.

The dome is situated in the center of a large shallow pond. Paul Andreu has said that he envisioned the hall as a tribute to the traditional Chinese image of Heaven and Earth: round above square. The shell of the dome is part opaque, part transparent, with a dividing line in a shape resembling the Tao. This symbolism is echoed further through reflection in the water.

At first, the complex appears to have no entrance; in fact, entry is by way of a tunnel under the water.

Just a short walk from TianAnMen Square, QianMen, ZhongShan Park and the Forbidden City, the nearest subway station is TianAnMen Xi (TianAnMen West), line 1.

Video of the National Center for the Performing Arts

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