Shakespeare's Globe

sights / Architecture

Shakespeare's Globe information

London , England
21 New Globe Walk
Getting there
Tube: London Bridge, St Pauls
Train: London Bridge
More information
adult/child £13.50/8
Opening hours
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Today's Londoners may flock to Amsterdam to misbehave, but back in the Bard's day they'd cross London Bridge to Bankside. Free from the city's constraints, they could settle down to whoring, bear-baiting and heckling of actors. The most famous theatre was the Globe, where a genius playwright was penning hits such as Macbeth and Hamlet .

Today's Globe, a faithful reconstruction of oak beams, handmade bricks, lime plaster and thatch, is the vision of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, who sadly died before the opening night in 1997.

The original Globe – known as the 'Wooden O' after its circular shape and roofless centre – was erected in 1599 and was a rival to the Rose Theatre . All was well but did not end well when the Globe burned down within two hours during a performance in 1613 (a stage cannon ignited the thatched roof). A tiled replacement fell foul of the party-pooping Puritans in 1642, who saw the theatre as the devil's workshop, and it was dismantled two years later.

Admission includes the exhibition hall and a guided tour of the theatre (departing every 30 minutes). Tours shift to the nearby Rose Theatre instead when matinees are being staged. Plays are performed from April to October; while Shakespeare and his contemporaries dominate, modern plays are also staged (see the website for upcoming performances). As in Elizabethan times, seatless 'groundlings' can watch in all-weather conditions (£5; seats are £15-£42) for the best views. There's no protection from the elements and you'll have to stand, but it's an unforgettable experience.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse , opened in 2014, is an indoor, candlelit Jacobean theatre. Shakespeare wrote for both outdoor and indoor theatre, and the playhouse had always been part of the Globe's ambitions.