Manoel Theatre (Valletta)

About

The Manoel Theatre, or Teatru Manoel in Maltese, is the historic theatre of Malta. Built in the 18th century, it is located in the heart of the capital, Valletta. The main auditorium has only 547 seats; thus, Manoel is a small theatre in size but an institution and one of the symbols of Malta’s historical wealth. With more than 300 years of history, the theatre is still in operation and continues to play a major role in the archipelago’s cultural life. The theatre offers a wide variety of local and international artistic performances. It also provides the opportunity to be discovered during a guided tour, to appreciate the beauty of the place and its history-rich past.

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History of the Manoel Theatre

The Manoel Theatre is renowned for being the third oldest theatre in Europe still in operation, following the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza (Italy) and the Reduta Theatre in Brno (Czech Republic). The construction of the theatre in Valletta began in 1731, initiated by the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, Fra António Manoel de Vilhena, after whom the building is named today.

The theatre, whose construction took only 10 months, was inaugurated on January 19, 1732, with a performance of the Italian tragedy “Merope” by Scipione Maffei.

Today, the Manoel serves as the national theatre of Malta. It is home to the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (Orkestra Filarmonika Nazzjonali).

Attending a Performance at the Manoel Theatre

The most natural way to discover Malta’s national theatre is simply by attending one of its many performances. The theatre hosts weekly events: plays, operas, musicals, and artistic performances. The shows are primarily in English, but may also be in Maltese or Italian (mainly for operas).

The Manoel Theatre is a small venue with only 547 seats, divided between the stalls, boxes on three levels, and the gallery on the top floor. The boxes contain 4 to 8 seats; depending on the box and the performance, they can be booked by seat or only as a whole.

Tickets for upcoming performances can be purchased on the Teatru Manoel booking site, or directly at the theatre box office (be aware of opening hours).

Visiting the Manoel Theatre

If you’re unable to attend a performance, it’s still possible to explore the theatre and its backstage areas during a guided tour. However, be aware that tour slots are quite limited, as the operational theatre alternates between tours, rehearsals, and performances.

Guided tours generally last about thirty minutes. Visitors can discover the theatre’s sumptuous interior with its Baroque architecture, oval auditorium, and wooden boxes decorated with gold leaf.

Manoel Theatre Information

Location

Old Theatre Street, Il-Belt Valletta

The entrance is on Old Theatre Street (Triq it-Teatru l-Antik)

Pricing

  • €5 for a tour
  • Variable prices for performances

Opening Hours

11am to 3pm Monday to Friday

10:30am to 12:30pm Saturday

Closed on Sunday

Performance times vary

Transport

Bus: Valletta stop

Map