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The Casino at Knokke by Ginny Suter

Ginny wrote numerous articles for Plug-In Belgium and Internationals in Belgium in the late 1990s early 2000's and presented a weekly radio programme for a local radio station in the Brussels Waterloo area.

There is a lot more than just a flutter, to meet the eye at the elegant Casino in Knokke. Built to help encourage tourism, following a disastrous seaside storm in 1922, it has developed over the years as a great promoter of the arts and cultural events.

In the aptly named 'Hall du Lustre', hangs the largest crystal chandelier in the world. Weighing 7 tons, spanning 8.50 x 7.50metres, it has made the Guinness Book of Records. Conceived by the Antwerp architect Joseph Selis, it was made in Murano, close to Venice, especially for the Knokke Casino. 2,000 light bulbs and thousands of Venetian crystal pieces illuminate the hall and the Niki de Saint Phalle, statue 'Adam and Eve'. 'Le Salon des Ambassadeurs', off the entrance hall, has regular art exhibitions.

Three adjoining rooms, 'Les Salles Gustave Nellens', are reserved for exhibitions. All the great contemporary artists have shown here: Bernard Buffet, Picasso, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning, Miro, André Masson, Paul Delvaux, Labisse, Chagall, Ossip Zadkine, César, Matisse, Balthus, Permeke, Max Ernst, Raoul Duffy, Salvador Dali, Magritte, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Tinguely, Keith Haring, Fernando Botero, George Segal, Leo Castelli's Artists, Frank Stella, Nam June Paik.

On the east-side of the hall you can see 'Le Voyage Légendaire,' a wall painting (13.16mx4.40m) by Paul Delvaux. Alongside is the Keith Haring Room, named after an enormous mural painted by the American artist in 1987.

On the west-side landing you can see four paintings by Roger Nellens, whom we wrote about in last month's issue. Off the main hall lies the Magritte Room, with a beautiful rotund mural hanging high around the conference room. Painted by René Magritte in 1953, at the request of Gustave Nellens, the painter did not have time to prepare his canvasses before a tight deadline and painted directly onto the wall. The fresco called 'Le Domaine Enchanté' brings together most of Magritte's inspirational sources. The room is used for banquets and conferences.

'La Salle des Jeux', the gaming room - is a haven for gamblers: French and American Roulette, Bacccara, 'Chemin de Fer', Black Jack and Boule. On the walls are Aubusson Tapestries, designed by Jean Lurçat, which were made for the Casino and are based on two themes, the sea and gaming. The crystal chandeliers echo the same theme. Whether you play or not, you can observe it all from the 'Mascotte' bar and restaurant.

The versatile 'Salle des Fêtes' hosts fashion shows, banquets, conferences, and shows such as the Annual Belgian Summer Festival. And nightbirds can go to one of the Casino's night clubs - the 'Number One' or the 'Dubbels'.

For further information about exhibitions, conferences, shows, dining or any aspect of this innovative casino, telephone 050 63 05 06

©Ginny Suter - 1998

Original article appearing in "Internationals in Belgium" Dick Suter was an editor of the magazine and contributor and Ginny Suter was a regular contributor in the late 1990's and 2000's - The magazine had a circulation of 10,000 Please note that this article was first published many years ago and telephone and fax numbers are likely to be out of date and email addresses have been removed.

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