The old San Giacomo theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in Greece. It was was built in the 1680s as a "loggia" (a noblemen's club) but in the 1720s it was converted to a theatre. It had been named after San Giacomo catholic cathedral church next door. Its formal name was "Nobile teatro di San Giacomo di Corfù".
In the beginning, only theatre plays had been staged but in 1733 an opera was performed there for the first time. It was A. Aurelli's ''Gerone, tiranno di Siracusa". The operas flourished in the theatre but in 1893, the building became the city hall and a new Municipal theatre had been built in the new part of town. During the Second World war the precious theatre historical archives had been destroyed by Luftwaffe raids.
The theatre attracted many italian musicians and composers which helped generating an appreciation for music among the locals and led to the apprearence of important greek composers like Nikolaos Mantzaros and Spyridon Xyndas.
The building exterior is ornate. It had been built with corfiot stone in rennaisance style and its façade is adorned with baroque busts and insciptions. On the eastern side of the building, a big statue of venetian governor Morosini and his offsprings dominate the view.
The southern side, facing the Town Hall square, features the main entrance to the building. Above the vaulted main door and windows, busts of ancient greek deities and the local coat of arms with the ancient corfiot ship featured as a symbol of corfiot glory, make the building look special dominating the area around it.
The old San Giacomo theatre, has always been a focal point of our town, either being a noblemen's club and opera or a town hall. It had been the first opera theatre in Greece, long before Athens and Patras build their own ones. At the same time, it helped creating a national classical music school which had been nonexistent back then in ottoman occupied mainland Greece.