10 grand European music venues

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Kilden Performing Arts Centre, Norway

Standing directly on the waterfront in Kristiansand, the 100 meter (328 ft.) long glass facade is topped with an undulating wall in gold shimmering oak, resembling a theater curtain. Since 2012 the arts center, boasting 165,000 square meters of space, has been home to the Agder Theater, the Sør Opera and the symphony orchestra. The building was designed by Norwegian and Finnish architects.

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Philharmonie de Paris, France

Star conductor Pierre Boulez and award-winning architect Jean Nouvel came up with the idea for this concert hall, which opened in 2015. The aluminum facade consists of 340,000 bird motifs which, when seen from a distance, shimmer like fish scales. Visitors can access the 37 meter high roof of the building, which affords a view of the whole of Paris.

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Sage Gateshead, England

Seven bridges cross the River Tyne, connecting Gateshead with Newcastle. The Millennium Bridge stretches right over the Sage Gateshead concert hall - which is named after its sponsor. The entire building lights up. Designed by Sir Norman Foster, it was opened in 2004. The music center is open for 16 hours a day, 364 days of the year.

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Casa da Música Porto, Portugal

This 1,300 seat concert hall, resembling a giant box, was designed by architects Rem Koolhaas and Ellen Van Loon from the OMA firm. White concrete and glass dominate the exterior. The interior has colorful features, soft shapes and the typical Portuguese 'Azulejos' stone tiles. The glass ceiling can be opened and from it you can see right across the rooftops of Porto to the Atlantic.

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Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Spain

In his home town of Valencia, architect Santiago Calatrava created an entire city for arts and science: the Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias. Here, the opera house stands next to the Oceanographic Aquarium, the planetarium and the science museum. The bold design is dominated by the two steel shells that form the roof. Is it a building or a sculpture? A giant swan or a whale?

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Den Norske Opera og Ballett Oslo, Norway

The roof, which can be walked across, is made up of 36,000 Carrara marble blocks. The hall is supported by delicate glass walls. Oiled oak - good for the acoustics - defines the interior. Experienced Norwegian boat builders sanded the audience stalls into shape. When performers on stage take a break, visitors can take in the stunning fjord landscape outside.

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Philharmonie Berlin, Germany

When it first opened, the unusual architecture of the hall - the orchestra sits on a podium in the center of the room - caused controversy. But architect Hans Scharoun's vision of an ideal theater went on to become a model for modern concert halls around the world. In 1963 Herbert von Karajan conducted the opening concert. The Philharmonie is the home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Aalto-Theater Essen, Germany

Finnish architect Alvar Aalto said he was inspired by the ancient Greek theater in Delphi. That resulted in the semi-circular formation of the seats in front of the stage and the asymmetrical layout of the auditorium. He designed the opera house in the late 1950s. But construction work didn't begin until 1983. The building is regarded as an icon of classic modern design.

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Harpa Music Hall Reykjavík, Iceland

Artist Olafur Eliasson loves light in all its varieties so he designed this building with a facade of honeycombed, partly colored glass building blocks. By day they fracture the light and at night they reflect it colorfully when the building lights up in changing colors like a kaleidoscope. Harpa is the local term for harp as well as the name given to the first month of summer in Iceland.

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Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Germany

The Elbphilharmonie combines a historic warehouse with a glass construction, which seems to float in the air. It was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. The wave-shaped roof is supposed to reference both the surrounding water and sound waves made by the music.

Across Europe, modern concert halls are no longer relying on spectacular performances alone. The architecture of the venue itself is designed to signal: this is where music is being played!