Designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Piermarini, La Scala was inaugurated in August 1778 to replace the Teatro Regio Ducale, destroyed in a fire in 1776. It was constructed on the site of the Santa Maria della Scala church.
The portico allowed spectators to directly enter the theatre from their horse-drawn carriages. The bas-relief on the tympanon shows Helios in his chariot pursued by the night.
It re-opened on December 7, 2004 with Salieri's Europa riconosciuta, the opera performed at La Scala's inauguration in 1778. In 1778, Teatro alla Scala had about 3000 “seats” across the chairless main floor where spectators watched the shows standing up, the over 600 boxes and the two galleries above the boxes.
After the roof collapsed during bombings in 1943, a new glass chandelier was donated by artists from Murano. It is illuminated by 383 light bulbs.
The Museo Teatrale alla Scala opened on March 8, 1913. Displaying costumes, set designs and instruments, it covers not only the history of La Scala, but also Italian theatrical history.