Where sightseeing and classical music go hand in hand
Sure, you can work through a checklist of places to visit in Paris, Rome, or Berlin. But why not give yourself the chance to take home more than snapshot impressions? A classical music performance is not only a chance to skip the lines for many points of interest. As the music interacts with the space, the memory you take home is more vivid and complete.
Here are some extraordinary places where music and architecture come together in something that is more than the sum of the individual parts. Be sure to book tickets in advance, to make your concert visit stress-free.
La Sainte Chapelle, Paris
The most exquisite stained glass windows in Paris are in La Sainte Chapelle, tucked away behind the Palais de Justice. The richly detailed chapel is a bustling tourist site during the day, but on most evenings, you can hear live chamber music while taking in the soaring Gothic architecture. The VIP seating is a bit more expensive, but it will give you an even more direct view of both the performers and the altar area.
Bargemusic, New York City
Manhattanites joke that the only reason to leave the island is to get a better view of the city’s skyline. Bargemusic not only provides just that view, but it also offers perfect acoustics for chamber music. Hear some of New York’s finest musicians perform at this unique floating location at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, where the famous New York skyline is visible behind the concert stage.
Berliner Dom, Berlin
The Cathedral of Berlin, or Berliner Dom, is a tremendous edifice that rises up from in the city’s historic center. The cavernous interior is awe-inspiring and it is no surprise that concerts here are popular among locals. The famous Sauer organ was constructed just for this space and the concert season includes an organ festival in the summer months. Gaze at the ceiling mosaics and admire the decorative elements in the chancel, while top Berlin classical musicians perform.
Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona
The “Palace of Catalan Music” is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. A concert here is a bit like sitting in the world’s largest musical jewel box. Let your eyes wander across the sculpted muses and historical figures, and be careful not to go home with a stiff neck from admiring the enormous stained-glass skylight. The musical program is unparalleled, drawing local artist, as well as practically every top classical music artist from around the world.
Municipal House, Prague
There seems to be no end to the decorative details at Prague’s stunningly restored Municipal House, known to locals as the Obecní dum. This art nouveau extravaganza has several halls suited for performances, but most events are offered in the central Smetena Hall. Frescoes on the walls and ceiling portray allegorical images of the performing arts, and original lamps, woodcarvings, and metalwork can be admired in all directions. If you can, choose a performance with a large ensemble to fully appreciate the acoustics. Seats around the tenth row or front-row balcony let you take in your surroundings without turning your back to the performers.
Palazzo Barbarigo-Minotto, Venice
The 15th century Minotto Palace was joined in the 17th century Barbarigo Palace to form this richly decorated palazzo on Venice’s magical Grand Canal. Opera singers with a small instrumental ensemble bring the interior of the Palazzo Barbarigo-Minotto to life with intimate performances, inviting the audience to follow the musicians from room to room. Surrounded by stuccos and frescoes by 18th century Italian masters, you practically become a part of the charming reduced interpretations of “Rigoletto”, “Barber of Seville”, and other favorite operas. The Palazzo Barbarigo-Minotto is quite difficult to find, so be sure to study the map early, in order to arrive at this Venice opera treat with time to spare.