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 shops and stalls that sell high-quality goods. The Royal Opera House stands the site of the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, built in 1732. After being repaired and enlarged in 1787, it burned down in 1808 and was rebuilt, was remodeled after a fire in 1846 and renamed the Royal Italian Opera in 1847, and burned down again in 1856. Rebuilt in 1858 to house opera and ballet, the theater acquired its present name in 1892. The Royal Ballet began performing there in the spring of 1946, and the Royal Opera was formed later that year. The opera house was completely renovated in the late 1990s.
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