Covent Garden kŭv´ənt [key], area in London historically containing the city's principal fruit and garden market and the Royal Opera House. The market was established in 1671 by Charles II on the site of the abbot of Westminster's convent garden, from which the area's name is derived. In 1974 the entire market was transferred to a new site at Nine Elms on the South Bank of the Thames near Vauxhall. Since then, Covent Garden has renovated old market buildings and become a popular shopping area, with many individual stores and stalls that sell high-quality goods. The Royal Opera House was erected on the site of the Theatre Royal built in 1732. After being repaired and enlarged in 1787, the theater burned down in 1808 and again in 1856. It was rebuilt in 1858 to house opera and ballet. The Royal Ballet began performing there in the spring of 1946. The Royal Opera House reopened in Dec., 1999, after an 18-month renovation.
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