The Estates Theatre or Stavovske divadlo is a historic theatre in Prague, Czech Republic. The Estates Theatre was annexed to the National Theatre in 1948 and currently draws on three artistic ensembles, opera, ballet, and drama, which perform at the Estates Theatre, the National Theatre , and the Kolowrat Theatre . The Estates Theatre was built during the late 18th century in response to Enlightenment thought regarding general access to the theatre, and theatres themselves demonstrating the cultural standards of a nation. The Estates Theatre was designed by Anton Haffenecker and built in a little less than two years for the aristocrat Frantisek Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck.
Prague's first theatre, Count Sporck's Theatre 1724-1735, was a private aristocratic venture. The first commercial theatre, the "Kotzentheater" or Divadlo v Kotcích, ran from 1739-1783 under a series of Italian impresarios. The final closure of the "Kotzentheater" coincided with the opening of Count Nostitz’s "Nostitzsches Nationaltheater." The theatre opened in 1783 with a performance of the tragedy Emilia Galotti by the German playwright Gotthold Lessing. The building itself was constructed in a Neoclassical style and remains one of the few European theatres to be preserved in its almost original state to the present day. Its motto, Patriae et Musis "To the Native Land and the Muses"), which is inscribed above the portal, should also be noted as reflecting the original intentions of its creator.