Opéra Garnier (Palais Garnier opera house)

Location: Place de l’opéra, 9th arrondissement, Paris, France.

  • In 1858, Felice Orsini, an Italian revolutionary tried to assassinate Napoleon III.
  • The imperial couple ( the emperor Napoleon III and the empress Eugénie) escaped the bombing attack in front of the Opera Le Pelletier.
  • The bomb caused terrible damage among the crowd.
  • Napoleon III, decided the next day the construction of a new building. He wanted the new opera to embody the magnificence of the empire and to meet the luxurious pleasures of the imperial court.
  • An international competition was launched to designate the architect.
  • In 1861, the project of the young architect Charles Garnier was selected among 171 proposals.
  • Charles Garnier was then only 35 years old !
  • The baron Haussmann was prefect of Paris and was chosen by Napoleon III to carry out a massive urban renewal program in the capital.
  • The construction of the new building began in 1867 out of sight behind tall fences.
  • In 1867, the main facade was unveiled. The empress Eugénie exclaimed: “What sort of style is that? this is neither Greek, nor Louis XIV or Louis XVI!” to which Charles Garnier responded: “this is Napoleon III”.
  • The construction was interrupted by the war of 1870 and the fall of the second empire.
  • The inauguration of the building took place on January 5, 1875 in the presence of the President of the Republic, Mac-Mahon.
  • Napoleon III, who died two years ago, will not see the building he ordered.


Did you know?

  • Marc Chagall’s superb ceiling above the stage and auditorium features famous opera and ballet productions.
  • The acoustics of the hall is essentially due to the construction.
  • The beautiful chandelier of the opera weighs 8 tons of pure bronze and crystal. In 1896 the chandelier fell on the audience killing one person.
  • Since 1982, four hives are installed on the roof of the building. The production of honey is sold in the Opera shop.