The Kurhaus of Baden-Baden: A history of the most expensive casino in the world
Built almost two centuries ago, the Kurhaus of Baden-Baden is a true study in opulence. Entered through a grandiose portico, its belle époque aesthetic is timelessly elegant, its grand history written into every line of that most impressive of facades.
A beautiful leviathan that looks out across the Black Forest with impassive munificence, it is a seamlessly fitting setting for what is reputed to be the most expensive casino in the world: the Casino Baden-Baden.
In existence for a century and a half, it is the true crème de la crème of global casinos, a place where fortunes have been made and lost across the decades, and impossible sums of money wagered. For those who desire the most beautiful of backdrops in which to play these games of fortune, there is no other place on earth that can compare…
The history of the Casino Baden-Baden
The Kurhaus of Baden-Baden is as synonymous with gambling as Versailles is with France: a breath-taking and magnificent palace that epitomises an entire institution. Rolling roulette balls around its gleaming wheels for 150 years, it combines tradition and modernity to gift its thrill-loving visitors with the ultimate risk-taking experience.
Its history began with a spa. A small town in Germany, Baden was a blank spot on local maps. Although renowned for its thermal springs, few ever visited, although those who did would often find themselves in an enchanting yet almost unknown rural ballroom.
It was this building that would become the Kurhaus, a place frequented by millions as the 19th century transformed the little town into the most stylish of destinations for European high society.
Those rich and indulged individuals desired to be entertained, and though gambling was overtly forbidden, the authorities proved willing to turn a blind eye – with the greasing of a gaming tax, of course. One of the places where such a pastime could be enjoyed was that little rural ballroom, and it was here that architect Friedrich Weinbrenner would choose to build the classically inspired, Corinthian-columned palace that would go on to become the richest and most opulent casino in history.
Like car mechanic Charles Fey, a man fundamental to the history of slots and original inventor of the 140 ‘one-armed bandits’ that line the casino’s walls today, the Casino Baden-Baden came from the most humble of beginnings – a thematic pattern common to this unique pastime, where fortune always favours the brave – and it would have a similarly unprecedented impact on the development and direction that gambling would take thereafter.
The most expensive casino in the world
A true mirror of gambling history, the Casino Baden-Baden was afflicted by the many prohibitions levied against the sport as the decades passed. Forced to close in 1872, it remained a relic of another time until 1933, when its doors were thrown open once more. 1944 saw it fall into abeyance again, until 1950, and its glorious reintroduction as one of the most elite gambling institutions in existence.
It retains this privileged position to this day. Reputedly ‘the most expensive casino in the world’, Casino Baden-Baden offers a beauty and opulence to support its glorious title, so that for a few hours, all who step through its doors get to enjoy a truly unforgettable glimpse of the eternally elusive high life.
Will you one day pay it a visit yourself?
All images used in this article credit: casino-baden-baden.de/en/
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