Croatian National Theater in Split

HNK Split
The National Theater in Split

The Croatian National Theater in Split (HNK Split) is one of the oldest theaters in Dalmatia and is located just outside the historic heart of the city. It was opened in 1893 and is now run by the city of Split. It was the largest theater in Southeastern Europe when it opened, with a capacity of 1,000 people. There was no professional theater company in the city at the time, so the shows were mostly performed by foreign companies.

In the early 1920s, a professional company began to perform there, but with the major political changes in the country in 1928 and the domination of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the theater changed its name. Some local actors continued to perform a few operettas and operas under the radar for another ten years. On the eve of the Second World War, the theater took its present name. Dramatic plays were performed there, as well as ballets and operas. The war stopped the performances and they only resumed in 1945 and were not interrupted again. In 1970, a fire destroyed the building, but the shows continued for ten years in other rooms during its restoration.

Today, more than 300 performances take place each year in the theater. More than 120,000 spectators attend the 20 to 40 different annual productions (concerts, dramas, ballets and operas), as well as two major festivals:

  • Split Summer Festival: This festival is held from mid-July to mid-August and is one of the oldest performing arts festivals in the country.
  • The Marulić Days: This festival is named after the renaissance poet Marko Marulić and rewards the best plays written during the year.

When you visit Split, it is worth taking a look at the program offered by the HNK. While it can be difficult to understand the plays in Croatian, a ballet or an opera can be enjoyed even without translation. The prices are affordable and the performances are of high quality. The interior looks great, but the access is not really easy for people with reduced mobility.

More information: official website