The Kursaal is a large exhibition and conference centre erected where the old San Sebastian social club formerly was. The plot was vacant for some time until it was decided to build a convention hall on it. The construction was entrusted to Rafael Moneo, and it turned out to be a controversial one due to the architectural contrast it originates when compared to the rest of buildings in the city. Over the course of time, people have learnt to appreciate it and, nowadays, it is considered an icon of the city.
The Kursaal has a spacious auditorium, a large chamber music hall, multipurpose rooms and exhibition rooms. It is frequently used to host important events such as conferences, exhibitions and a wide variety of concerts which goes from classical music to pop-rock bands. Besides all that, it is known worldwide for being the venue of San Sebastian Film Festival since its first edition in 1999.
The Kursaal conference centre consists of two enormous translucent crystal cubes, one larger than the other, erected by the Zurriola beach, and which look like two huge embedded rocks. The total construction cost exceeded 50 million euros, much more than what had been estimated and, because of that, its construction together with its ultramodern aesthetics were extremely criticised and considered controversial. The building has been awarded many prizes thanks to its odd design and its contribution to architectural innovation. Its translucent crystal structure makes differently coloured lighting possible, depending on the festivity or season of the calendar. Thus, during Christmas time, it is always decorated with season motifs, stars, coloured spheres… It is also decorated for Carnival with a diverse range of coloured lighting and, on the 20th of January, San Sebastián’s festivity, it projects the flag of the city.