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19 wondrous opera houses

By: Angela Nelson on Aug. 18, 2016, 6:42 a.m.
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Palais Garnier in Paris

The Palais Garnier Opera House is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, in part because it was used as the setting for Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel "The Phantom of the Opera." Located on Avenue de l'Opéra, it is a "vivid example of the architectural excesses of Belle Époque baroque," as Travel and Leisure reports.

Built by Charles Garnier and opened in 1875, the Palais Garnier was commissioned by Napoleon III, who died two years before the magnificent structure was completed. According to Paris Tourist Office, the historic landmark is the 13th opera house in Paris since the introduction of French opera by Louis XIV in 1669.

The main auditorium, which is shaped like a horseshoe in the tradition of Italian theater, has 1,979 red seats and an eight-ton crystal-and-bronze chandelier with 340 lights hanging in the center. The house curtain was created by Auguste Rube and Philippe Chaperon following Garnier's instructions, and it has been replaced twice with an identical curtain — once in 1956 and again in 1991, according to the opera house's website.

The gorgeously ornate Grand Foyer (pictured) is drenched in light thanks to large windows, mirrors and chandeliers. The intricately painted ceiling was done by Paul Baudry and depicts various moments in music history. One common theme used as a decoration throughout the Palais Garnier is the lyre. If you visit, you'll see them everywhere — on walls, heating grids, doorknobs and more.