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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.
From time to time, Kurhaus has figured prominently in the international news across the span of centuries. The Baden-Baden conference center has hosted international events, congresses and summit meetings.
In 1925, twentieth step in the international chess masters' tournament was played at Kurhaus., The Kurhaus round of play spanned the period between April 16 and May 14, after a rest break was scheduled before the twenty-first and final round would begin in Marienbad on May 23.
From September 23 to September 28 1981, the XIth Olympic Congress was convened in the Kurhaus. The 84th session of International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting was expanded to encompass a broader range of representatives interested in the success and evolution of the Olympic movement. The Congress brought together delegates from the 147 nations that compete in the Games and participants from 26 international sporting federations.
In addition, each of the five cities seeking to be named as an Olympic venue sent representatives to Baden-Baden. Each group made an official presentation, and the next day the I.O.C. voted. Calgary and Seoul were selected to host the 1988 Winter and Summer Olympics.
The first official event of the 2009 Strasbourg-Kehl summit was a working dinner in the Florentine Room (Florentiner Saal) on the evening of April 3, 2009 at the Kurhaus. The large horse-shoe table was set with 28 places, allowing each leader to see and hear each other as they ate and talked together.
A brief classical program of classical music in the Kurhaus auditorium preceded the dinner, with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter playing works from European and American composers, including selections from Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dances and the Hoe-down from Aaron Copland's Rodeo.
The videocamera placement for NATO's live streaming webcast of the concert hall and the meeting room caused the ornate Kurhaus chandeliers to be featured.
For this special occasion, a series of poles for each of the flags of the NATO allies had been erected along the edge of lawn paralleling the steps of the main entrance.
For this one event, the lighting after nightfall was modified. The lights of the portico behind the colonnade were colored blue for NATO, in contrast with the illuminated white exterior of the flanking walls.
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