One of the most famous and most recognised Polish stages, it has operated continuously since 1893. The building of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre is counted among the most precious examples of theatre architecture in Europe.
The building was erected in 1891–93 and it replaced the demolished church and monastery of the Holy Spirit. This resulted in quite an uproar among Kraków historians, conservationists, and artists: as a sign of protest, the painter Jan Matejko, who fervently fought to have the medieval architecture remain, gave up his title of honorary citizen of the city.
The new building of the Municipal Theatre designed by Jan Zawiejski was the largest architectural investment in 19th century Kraków, and – which is notable in itself – the first building in the city to receive electric lighting. Built in the eclectic style, it is dominated by neo-Renaissance and neo-baroque elements. In 1901, it was here that Stanisław Wyspiański’s seminal play about the predicament of partitioned Poland Wesele / The Wedding premiered in 1901.
Originally, the Municipal Theatre was to be named after Poland’s most celebrated writer of comedies, Count Aleksander Fredro, as attested by his bust standing before the main entrance, yet eventually it was named after Juliusz Słowacki in 1909, on the centenary of the birth of the Polish poet prophet.
The first presentation of the cinematograph in Poland was held on 14 November 1896 in what at the time was the Municipal Theatre. The invention of the Lumière brothers was used for screening a set of 12 films. Projections were held before the evening performance and enjoyed great popularity. At least 10,000 people saw them in the two following months, which means they attracted more or less every eighth resident of the city.
The contemporary Juliusz Słowacki also operates on the Miniatura Stage active in the former building of the theatre’s power plant since 1976, the modern Małopolska Garden of Arts on Rajska Street, House of Theatrical Crafts and also the Kraków Salon of Poetry run by actress Anna Dymna.