Built in 1798, the original Teatro de São João was destroyed by fire in 1908. A competition to find an architect to design a new building was won by José Marques da Silva. He was once described as "Porto’s last classical and first modern architect" and the Teatro Nacional São João building is certainly testament to that. Despite its classical appearance the theatre is actually constructed from concrete and cement.
The new theatre operated as such for a further 20 years until the arrival of the silver screen. In 1932 it became more or less a cinema. The following decades were not kind to the building and it fell into some disrepair.
However, the theatre's fate changed in 1992 when it was taken over by the Portuguese state. After much renovation and restoration it reopened as the Teatro Nacional São João and has returned to the stage being front and centre.