Teatro Faenza

Bogota, Colombia | C.1924

Photo Credit: Omar Pinillos

From ceramics to cinema, the Teatro Faenza holds quite a history of artistic expression. Opened in 1924, the Teatro is the oldest theater in Bogotá and is located on the site of a former ceramic factory. Over its nearly 100 years of operation, the Teatro has been a place of both community and controversy — and even holds a few secrets of its own.

Enchanted by Europe’s 20th century marvel, the cinematograph, factory owner José María Saiz set out to create a building to house both film projections and live theater performances. After two years of construction, Teatro Faenza was inaugurated with a screening of the French film “Destiny”. From then on, it entered into an era of extravagance, putting on films, concerts, operettas, and zarzuelas for Bogotá’s wealthy.

The Teatro screened films well Into the late 1950s. At that time, it also served as a significant place in Colombia’s political history. In 1957, thousands of women gathered at the Teatro to exercise their right to vote for the first time. However, despite its cultural influence, the eventual deterioration of Bogotá’s center led to the Teatro’s temporary demise.

After dazzling audiences for decades, the Teatro fell into neglect and by the 1970s was used to screen pornographic films. In its darkest times, it was suspected of screening “snuff cinema” when evidence of these acts were found in the Teatro’s basement.

Today, the Teatro is renowned for its history and architectural significance. In 2002, the Central University conducted a three-year restoration of the building to modernize its interiors where gorgeous murals, lighting fixtures, and theater seating can be found. Finding redemption through restoration, the Teatro is once again one of the most important stages in Bogotá.

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