The Majestic Theatre - Atlas Obscura

The Majestic Theatre

The elaborate façade of this old Cantonese opera house celebrates the building's history and the love story that founded it.  


Located in the heart of Chinatown, the Majestic blends Western and Chinese architectural styles, and remembers the love story that founded it. 

Built in 1927 by Eu Tong Sen, the Majestic Theatre was formerly known as the Tien Yien Moh Toi Theatre. In addition to being a wealthy tin mining and rubber businessman, Sen was a dedicated husband. He used his wealth to open the theater after his wife was denied entrance to a Cantonese opera. Not only that, but he bought the whole street the Majestic sits on, and an entire opera troupe, just for his wife. 

By 1938, the theater had evolved into a cinema screening Cantonese blockbusters. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore during World War II, the theatre was commandeered and renamed Tai Hwa Opera House and screened Japanese propaganda films. When the war ended, the Majestic Film Company acquired and aptly renamed the building. The theater was not only popular among Singaporean locals, but attracted Hong Kong film stars like Grace Chang, Lin Dai, and Ge Lan. 

Since then, the ownership of the Majestic has changed multiple times. In 1983, Cathay Organisation became the sole owner, screening Chinese films until the late 90s. In the early 2000s, the theatre was renovated into a three-story shopping mall that opened its doors on January 17, 2003. After going up for sale again in 2007, the building was turned into a betting center in 2009, to the dismay of many heritage conservationists and Chinese cultural arts enthusiasts.

The façade of the building is still adorned with tiles, depicting scenes of Cantonese opera and flying dragons. Its architecture reflects its connections to Singapore’s Cantonese community and the labor of love that founded it. 



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