In the centre of Madrid, you find this beautiful old building from 1910. The Casino de Madrid is full of history. Get to know more about the history from an upper-class social club to an exclusive casino.
As one of the most beautiful buildings in Madrid, the history behind the Real Casino de Madrid is a history of how the upper class of Madrid was looking for a social place to hang out.
Originally the word casino is of Italian origin and is not connected to gambling. Casa means house in Italian, and therefore a casino should be understood as a house dedicated to recreation, social activities, and pleasure.
Such a place was exactly what the high class of Madrid was looking for in the 19th century. Inspired by the English social clubs they wanted to create their own space, where they could meet up, rest, and enjoy the social company of other members of the high classes in Madrid. So, a group of intellectuals created Casino de Madrid for this purpose.
A Popular Gentlemen’s Club
It opened in 1836 and moved around to multiple locations. First, in 1910 it moved into the gorgeous building at Calla Alcalá, where the casino is located today. The building was an outcome of the most modern style of the time, art nouveau, that was presented at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900. The popularity of this social club was increasing, and more and more men of Madrid wanted to be a part of the club.
The club needed bigger and bigger space, and this led to the construction of this incredible building. Originally gambling wasn’t a big part of social clubs. The purpose of this gentlemen’s club was to meet with other men of the city and talk about cultural topics and issues. But this purpose was the way for gambling to come into the casinos since it was considered as an activity that was useful to provide a setting for talks between the members of the club. In this sense, gamblers were only accepted into the club if they acknowledged that the games were meant to facilitate conversation.
The Modern Casino
Its splendor lasted until the civil war, where it was turned into a blood hospital and wounded men from the front were treated here. Not until the fall of the Franco dictatorship it was taken into the status as a pure gambling space, as we know it today. But today the house maintains its glamour. You can find multiple bars, beautiful halls for parties or conferences, plus a 2-star Michelin restaurant inside the Casino de Madrid. And then of course also options for playing casino games.
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