Royal Toone Theatre is now European heritage


The Royal Theatre of Toone in Brussels has been added to a prestigious list of places with a rich history of European culture.

You would barely see it if you didn’t know it was there, but at a stone’s throw of the Grand’ Place in Brussels, hidden between bigger shops on Rue du Marché aux Herbes, lies a narrow alleyway that reveals the Théatre Royal de Toone, a café that’s home to patrons, various cats and... puppets! 

This humble, hidden puppet theatre is as old as Belgium and follows an age-old tradition of folkloric theatre played by a puppeteer, supposedly Toone. Each Toone is inducted by their predecessor. 

Feeling like a kid while you’re reading this? Well, actually, it’s historically geared toward adults. It might also surprise you that no less than seven people are required to put on a performance at Toone – six puppeteers and Toone himself, who does all the voices. The puppeteers switch puppets between themselves, you see, and consistency is key. 

There are three criteria for obtaining this European label: they must be important to the EU, the way they communicate their Europeanness to the public and their prowess in what they do. 

Four other institutions in Belgium are on the list: the MigratieMuseumMigration in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek, the Colonies of Benevolence in Wortel, the Bois du Cazier in Charleroi and Mundaneum, an archives and exhibition space in Mons. 

This good news certainly tugs at our heartstrings!