La Monnaie | De Munt
In 1695 Gio Paolo Bombarda, banker and financial counsellor to Maximilian II Emmanuel of Bavaria, decided to build a public theatre for opera, theatre and ballet performances.
The construction began in 1700 by architects Paolo and Pietro Bezzi. It was considered one of the most beautiful theatres outside Italy.
In 1800 Napoleon decided to build a new theatre which was inaugurated in 1819, with a design by Louise Damesme. In 1854 Eugène Simonis put the finishing touch to the façade in the form of a pediment with a bas-relief representing ‘The Harmony of Human Passions’. A dark-blue enamelled, plate steel ‘frieze’ serves to emphasize the top two floors and is a post-modern touch added during the renovation works carried out in 1985-86 after the theatre was destroyed by fire. Two more renovation works were done in 1876 and 1985.
Repertoire was restricted to Opera and dance in 1853. La Monnaie became a national institution, having first been run as a private concession and then by the City of Brussels.