Tours of Bourlaschouwburg explore a stunning nineteenth-century, neoclassical theater with authentic interior and stage machinery, as well as a beautiful ceiling painting.
Behind the Scenes Tour
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
How to book: Tours are available by appointment for groups only. To book a tour please phone +32 3 224 88 37 or visit the website.
Tour dates: Closed in August
Cost: €10 (min. 15, max. 30 people)
How to get there
The Bourla is located in the heart of Antwerp. The nearest train station is Antwerp Central Station or by bus to Rooseveltplaats. From there by bus/tram: Premetro 2, 3, 5 and 15 / get off at station station Meir – take exit Huidevettersstraat.
For information please see website
Belgium hosts a varied array of theatres and theatrical architecture with influences from across Europe. From opulent opera houses to enchanting private theatres, Belgium is a treat for visitors with a passion for theatre architecture.
The Bourla theatre owes its name to a French architect, Pierre-Bruno Bourla, who presented his building plans in 1828 to the city council of Antwerp, under Dutch occupation. The building was erected between 1829 and 1834 on the site of the old Tapissiers’ building, a hall where carpets were sold. On the 1September 1834, the theatre was inaugurated, then called “Théâtre Royal Français”. From the start it was considered an architectural marvel in Europe. The remarkable half-round facade, the beautiful surroundings, the fantastic interior decoration and the perfect theatre machinery were much acclaimed. Even till today, the theatre is complimented on for the very same reasons.
Bourla designed a sober, well balanced neo-classicist building with a semi-circular front. The top is decorated with statues of Apollo and the nine muses. Below the statues are busts of important writers and composers, including Mozart, Molière, Shakespeare, Van den Vondel etc. Pierre Bourla conceived the new theatre as a théâtre à l’italienne. This concept has a horseshoe-shaped hall with a central parterre. Various gallery or balcony floors with small boxes were built around it.
The stage lies about one metre above the floor and is separated from it by a porch, the theatre mouth and curtain. The space behind the porch is the tower where the actual theatre machinery is situated. For the decoration Bourla ordered the Parisian interior architects Philastre and Cambon. The gilt around the 10 metre theatre mouth combined with the ‘manteau d’Arlequin’ in heavy red velvet breathed the magnificence the city council had longed for with the building of this theatre. Flowery garlands, rosettes and Greek reminding pillars are abundantly present in the public part either by paintings or by imitation stucco. The round and richly decorated ceiling became the eye catcher of the theatre.