City Hall (Gran Casino), San Sebastian
By the end of the 19th century, San Sebastian had transformed from a port village to a prestigious resort. The construction of the casino during this period was quite logical - it was the beginning of the Belle Époque era and the explosive growth in the popularity of beach holidays. In 1882, a design competition was announced, which was won by architects Adolfo Morales de los Ríos and Luis Aladrén Mendivil. Construction began in 1883 and the Gran Casino was opened with great fanfare personally by Queen Regent Maria Cristina on July 1, 1887. The building with a neoclassical facade bears a clear resemblance to the casino in Monte Carlo by the great Charles Granier, only the Spanish architects made the towers much higher.
In 1923, as a result of a coup d'etat, General Primo de Rivera seized power in Spain, censorship and other restrictions were introduced during his reign, including a decree banning gambling in 1924. The casino, which had a clientele from all over Europe, closed and the building was empty. In 1928, the building opened an entertainment and tourism center (Centro de Atracción y Turismo). In the thirties, Spain was engulfed by the anarchy of the Civil War, initially the territory of the Basque Country was under the rule of Republicans, but in 1936 San Sebastian was captured by the nationalists of General Franco. During the fighting, the building was one of the hotbeds of defense, and if you look closely, you can see bullet holes on the walls.
In 1943, the city authorities became cramped in the building on Constitution Square, and they decided to move to the empty luxury building of the Grand Casino. After the reconstruction of the interior, since 1947, the building serves as the city hall.
On the right facade of the building, you can see a memorial plaque installed in the place where the 1992 Tour de France cycling race was launched.
The building is open to the public on weekdays from 9 to 14 and you can try to get inside to see the interiors. You may not be kicked out. On public holidays, the Town Hall hosts exhibitions and other public events.