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Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona

51–59 La Rambla
Spain 08002
Tel: 34 93 485 99 00's insider take:

The opulent Liceu was built in 1847 as a paean to the arts, with gilded ballrooms, a hall of mirrors, and an auditorium similar to Milan's Teatro alla Scala. The Liceu suffered two fires over the years, in 1861 and 1994, which ultimately hastened its leap into the 21st century; it's now one of the most technologically advanced theaters in the world. Events range from flamenco shows to ballets to classic operas. There's a standard guided tour for a rundown of the theater's history, but much more interesting is the new behind-the-scenes tour, which reveals the inner workings of the multilevel stage, the costume room, and the technical controls. Tours are given daily from 10 am onward (call ahead in case productions get in the way), and you can reserve tickets in advance (34-93-485-9914). Season ticket holders take up the bulk of the seats for most shows, but you can pick up what's left online, where full details of the programs are also listed.—Updated by Suzanne Wales

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.