The history of La Monnaie in a nutshell:
1695 : Gio Paolo Bombarda, owner of the theatre at the Hooikaai, banker and financial counsellor to Maximilian II Emmanuel of Bavaria and governor of the Spanish Netherlands, decided to build a public theatre for opera, theatre and ballet performances.
1700 : This theatre was built by the architects Paolo and Pietro Bezzi on the site of the former ‘Herberge van Oistervant’ mint (‘La Monnaie’ is the French word for ‘coins’). It was considered one of the most beautiful theatres outside of Italy.
1800 : Napoleon decided to build a new theatre.
1819 : Inauguration of the new theatre designed by the French architect Louis Damesme.
1830 : King William of the Spanish Netherlands lifted the prohibition on the staging of Auber’s opera The Mute of Portici. This work played an important part in Belgium’s struggle for independence.
1853 : Repertoire restricted to opera and dance.
1855 : The interior of the theatre was destroyed by fire. Only the pediment (Eugene Simonis ‘Harmony of Human Passions’), the colonnade and the outside walls were left intact.
1856 : Inauguration of the third theatre by architect Joseph Poelaert.
1876 : Gédéon Bordiau added an extra floor and installed the building’s first sophisticated air-conditioning system.
1963 : ‘La Monnaie’ became a national institution, having first been run as a private concession and then by the City of Brussels.
1985 : The Department of Public Works decided to renovate the building for technical, safety and aesthetic reasons.
1986 : Inauguration of the restored building.
1998 : To mark the 300th anniversary of La Monnaie, the stage organ was restored and the restored paintings on canvas were reinstalled on the cupola of the auditorium.
2000 : Inauguration of the New Monnaie workshops in the ancient Vanderborght buildings and the neo-classical building at no. 23 Leopoldstraat, just behind La Monnaie. An exhibition entitled ‘Opera. Tangible Emotion’ was mounted in the renovated buildings.
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