Palermo's Teatro Massimo "Vittorio Emanuele" is not only the largest theatre in Italy, but also one of the largest in Europe. This imposing structure with its neoclassical exterior, stands on the site of a church and a monastery, demolished at the end of the 1800's to make way for the building of the theatre.
The façade resembles a classic temple. A regal flight of steps leads up to a gabled vestibule (pronaos) supported by six corinthian tuff columns on a podium with a monumental staircase flanked by two bronze lions ridden by the allegorical representations of Melody and Opera.
Crowning the theatre is an enormous dome with a metal spine which thanks to a system of rollers, moves allowing excellent acoustics in changes of temperature. The rhythmic repetitive use of columns and arches create an architectural harmony typical of public edifices of the Classical era.
The theater's five floors of boxes and the gallery, have the capacity to hold over three thousand spectators.
Although for a long time this spectacular structure was abandoned, it is now very much alive hosting not only operas, but plays, ballets, exhibitions and the main cultural activities of the city.