The National Theater of Costa Rica is one of the most iconic buildings in the capital, San José. Its construction began in 1891 and it took 6 years to finish it. The theater has a neoclassical architecture, with marble columns, statues and paintings. It was declared National Monument in 1965 because of its cultural importance and architectural beauty.
Nowadays, the National Theater is place that can be visited and enjoyed by all people, nationals, foreigners, kids, senior citizens and people with disabilities. At its front door there is a ramp with a decent slope that gives access to wheelchair users to the foyer. Here, surrounded by marble columns and statues, you can buy the tickets for any performance, show or tour around the theater. It is important to mention that the Theater has special tours for blind and deft people, but you have to sign for it before the visit.
From the foyer, you have flat access to a shop and a cafeteria, both accessible for people with reduced mobility. The Traviata shop offers books, CDs, clothes, purses, earrings, and a lot of different things made by Costa Ricans. It is not too spacious, but a wheelchair user can get around with some cautions. The Alma de Café cafeteria offers different kind of coffees, sandwiches, salads and desserts. It has some more space when there is not full of people. The designs of the tables, in some cases make your knees hit the frame, so you may be a bit far from your food.
There’s an accessible bathroom for both men and women. It has flat access from the foyer, the door’s bolt is easy to manipulate without the use of your fingers, and the toilet, urinal and sink have adequate heights. The mirror is inclined so you can see yourself from a seated position with no problem.
Accessible places are located in the lunette area. To get here there’s a ramp with not so smooth slope and covered in carpet, so to get in, there is no problem but to get out it’s not so easy, if you are a wheelchair user not too strong. The seats are the originals from the Theater, and the armrests don’t fold, so if you want to transfer into a regular seat it would not be easy. Otherwise, you could stay on your chair and locate at the back, but it’s not nice to see the show alone.
To get to upper levels, there’s an elevator for exclusive use of people with reduced mobility, and you have to be accompanied by someone of the theater staff. The Expresidents salon has no access by this elevator, but the Theater has a mobile one to get wheelchairs users there. If the wheelchair is not too heavy, people usually offer help to raise it, because there are not too much steps to get to the Ex-presidents salon. In the ceiling of this stairs there’s a famous painting “Alegoría del café y el banano” made by the Italian Aleardo Villa, which describes the production of coffee and banana in the country. This painting was reproduced, later on, in the five colones bill.
Generally speaking, the National Theater of Costa Rica has a pretty good accessibility, most areas can be visited with no or little help and the staff is always willing to help and assist in any case.