The Railway Carriage Theatre
At the platform of Rouf Railway Station in Athens, there is a train frozen in time standing ready to transfer its passengers to forgotten times. The Railway Carriage Theatre is not only a train theatre unique in the world but also a haven of culture and art.
Since 1997 when the Railway Carriage Theatre opened its doors for the first time, it has continued to host theatrical, dance and music performances for all ages as well as educational programs, festivals, exhibitions, screenings and more. The founder of the Railway carriage theatre is acclaimed Greek actress and director, Tatiana Ligari.
The Railway Carriage Theatre consists of nine fully refurbished antique carriages. The Breda type steam engine and carriages date back to 1927 through the late 1970’s. They are now home to performance stages and galleries as well as a restaurant and bar.
Starting our exploration from the back of the train forward, we board the newest carriage of this commanding train, appropriately named the New Wagon. Every spring the Festival of Young Artists takes place here, in addition to other art events. This festival brings together musicians, dancers, actors, and other artists who come together to present unique performances inside the twelve compartments of the wagon. For six years now this event continues to successfully introduce its visitors to the innovative concepts of a new generation of artists.
Next in the line is the Theatre Wagon, an air-conditioned Italian passenger wagon dating to 1950. A fully equipped theatre stage in the center of the car stands ready to host theatrical productions for all ages, literary meetings and art exhibitions. The car is actually lifted with a mechanism that simulates the motion of a train travelling along the railway lines, making a night of theatre a totally new experience!
The Wagon Restaurant is a restored pre war dining car. Visitors can enjoy dining in a vintage setting while also taking in the various art and photo exhibits frequently held here. After dinner, take a walk to the next in line, an old wooden cargo car, for an evening cocktail. The Wagon Bar dates back to WWII. In the summer it opens out to the platform of the Railway Carriage Theatre as the outdoor bar ‘’Apovathra’’. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee or drink while are gazing at the starry sky of Athens!
The last car we visited, first in the line and bound to leave a lasting impression, is the bright star of the Railway Carriage Theatre. Known as the Orient Express Music Wagon, this car is an original train car restaurant, one of the last of its kind, constructed in 1927. Walking into the car is like finding yourself inside the pages of Agatha Christie’s Orient Express! – This mystical dinner theatre seats an audience of 33, taking them on a journey into a unique experience of music performances, art events and theme nights.
The Railway Carriage Theatre is indeed a jewel hidden at the Rouf Raliway Station! Visitors have only to follow the tracks to get aboard and discover this magical adventure!
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Photographs courtesy of the Railway Carriage Theatre