The History of Brussels’s La Monnaie in One Minute

Grande Salle (c) Philippe De Gobert
Grande Salle (c) Philippe De Gobert
Of all the buildings in Brussels, none has witnessed the joys, sorrows and even the beginning of the nation quite like La Monnaie has. It’s a cultural institution where visitors can enjoy theater and music, but it’s also a place where you can touch a still relevant piece of Belgium’s history.

After the bombardments of 1695, Brussels had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Italian architects Paolo and Pietro Bezzi placed a new theater on the spot where a building used to stand that minted coins, earning the theater the name La Monnaie or De Munt.

When Belgium became part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the old building was demolished and replaced with another one close by. This new Neo-classical venue earned national and international recognition as a premiere platform for opera performances, and is the site where Auber’s La Muette de Portici opera moved the audience so much, they joined the uproar outside, resulting in the Belgian revolution — and subsequently, Belgian independence.

Grand Foyer © Johan Jacobs, Trappen | Johan Jacobs, Rideau | Johan Jacobs

After the theatre was partially destroyed during a fire in 1855, architect Joseph Poelaert turned it into a mixture of various styles (Neo-Baroque, Neo-Rococo and Neo-Renaissance) and the result is the building that still stands today.

The Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, or Koninklijke Muntschouwburg, is where the national opera is housed and is a place where people can enjoy theatre, ballet, opera and classical music. While La Monnaie still maintains its historic ambiance, the theatre itself moves and breathes with everything that happens within the capital, and lets it resonate through its cultural programming.