The theatre was originally founded in 1880 with a grant from George I and Efstratios Rallis to give theatre a permanent home in Athens. The foundations for this new project were laid on Agiou Konstantinou Street and the building itself was designed by the famous Saxonian architect noted for many other public buildings in Athens at the time, Ernst Ziller. Despite problems getting the building done in time, it was eventually completed in the late 1890s and in 1900 Angelos Vlachos is appointed as the Director.
The National Theater began to expand its operations and in 1901 a Drama School opens, in the same year The Royal Theatre opens its doors to the public with a monologue from Dimitris Verardakisʼ play Maria Dozapatri and two Greek one-act comedies: Dimitris Koromilasʼ The Death of Pericles and Charalambos Anninosʼ Servant Required. Following the first performance the theatre begins to expand in popularity among Greece's upper and upper middle classes and stages more productions. One of the most famous of the period was Aeschylusʼ Oresteia is staged in a prose translation by Yorgos Sotiriadis. The production sparks off a long linguistic conflict, as students from the School of Philosophy, incited by their classicist professor, Yorgos Mistriotis, march down Agiou Konstantinou in an attempt to halt the performance. The episodes that follow, known as the Oresteiaka, result in one death and ten injuries.
The Royal Theatre announces that it is stopping its performances indefinitely. The theatre remained closed, occasionally playing host to foreign theatre companies, until 1932. It remained closed until The National Theatre was founded, under an act of parliament signed by the education minister, Yorgos Papandreou, on 30 May.
The Central Theatre
The first home of the National Theatre was commissioned by King George I and designed by the architect Ernst Ziller. It was built between 1895 and 1901. The "Royal Theatre" occupied the historic neo-classical building on Agiou Konstantinou Street from 1901 to 1908, but went bankrupt and was forced to close. The building was renovated in 1930 and 1931 under the supervision of the set designer Kleovoulos Klonis. Since 1932 the building has been the home of the National's Central Theatre. Today the building is under complete renovation.