Opened in 1899, the National Theater is Oslo's foremost venue of the dramatic arts and was built after its predecessor, the Christiania Theater, burned down in 1877 during a performance of Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Designed by Norwegian architect Henrik Bull, this venerable old theater is festooned by colonnades and pediments in typically Neo-Classical style. It premiered many of Ibsen's plays, and the International Ibsen Festival is still held here biannually in fall. The theater has three stages within the main building and a further stage out at Torshov, where innovative contemporary works are staged. The wonderfully ornate and gilded Hovedscenen is the largest auditorium in the National Theater and sees both classical and modern productions; the theater is equally renowned for its collections of portraits of famous Norwegian thespians. If you're lucky enough to secure tickets for a performance, you'll fit in best with the Oslo crowds by dressing smart; no shorts or flip flops please.