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    Vienna’s Burgtheater

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    The old theatre on Michaelerplatz

    From ball house to Burgtheater

    In the 16th century it is a ball house, not a theatre, which stands next to the Hofburg on Michaelerplatz. In this building, erected in 1540, nobles at court enjoy a game similar to tennis.

    200 years later, following the death of Emperor Charles VI, his daughter and heir Maria Theresa orders that amusements such a ball games should no longer take place for reasons of piety. In March 1741 the ruler relaxes the rules and has the ball house turned into a theatre.

    The new theatre on Michaelerplatz is opened in 1748 and performances are held here until the new house on the Ring Is completed in 1888. The theatre is known firstly as the “Imperial and Royal Theatre nearest to the Burg”, later as the “Imperial and Royal Hofburg Theatre”. It is not until 1918 that it acquires the name “Burgtheater”.

    Maria Theresa even has a new ball house built near to Michaelerplatz. The square on which it stands is called Ballhausplatz today.