Baden-Baden, Germany | C.1824

Photo Credit: @alexbrcly

The Kurhaus is a spa resort, casino, and conference complex in Baden-Baden, Germany in the outskirts of the Black Forest. The first building, built in 1766, had a symmetrical layout, and while fairly small and compact, it attracted around 500 spa guests per year on average during the 18th century.

The main structure was designed in 1824 by Friedrich Weinbrenner, who is responsible for the Corinthian columns and paired-griffins frieze of the grand entrance and the neo-classical interiors. Although a casino was incorporated from the inception of the Kurhaus, it only began to achieve international fame in the mid-1830s, when gambling was forbidden in France.

This legal barrier encouraged gamblers to cross the border where they could try their luck at Baden-Baden’s gaming tables. Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” was inspired by the Russian author’s visit to the Kurhaus casino. At one point in her life, Marlene Dietrich declared that this was “the most beautiful casino in the world.

Over the course of nearly two centuries, the famous resort has experienced its ups and downs. The number of wealthy tourists diminished, for example, during the midst of the First World War. However, by the 1920s, some of those who were made wealthy by the Great War were displacing the titled Europeans who had contributed to building Kurhaus’s reputation as a resort and casino.

The Baden-Baden conference center has hosted numerous international events, from the international chess masters’ tournament in 1925 to the XI Olympic Congress in in 1981, and the 2009 NATO Summit. Just as it did when it opened centuries ago, today the Kurhaus continues to attract day-trippers, spa and congress guests, revelers, gamblers and sociable locals.

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