San Sebastián's new concert hall picks up the tempo
Though post-Guggenheim Bilbao has been stealing the spotlight, Donostia-San Sebastián is still the jewel of Spain's Basque country. On the Bay of Biscay, between Bilbao and Biarritz, the resort city retains its stately seaside glamour and Belle Époque grace. Like Bilbao, its gritty industrial sister to the west, San Sebastián has been doing its part for the Basque cultural renaissance, bringing foreign travelers back to this forgotten corner of Spain with a high-profile cultural landmark. In 1999, Basque soprano Ainhoa Arteta inaugurated the sparkling $60 million Centro Kursaal, a performing arts and conference center built on the site of the Gran Kursaal casino—an icon of the city's high-rolling heyday in the early 1920's—and the crowds haven't slowed. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, the Kursaal looks like a pair of giant, glowing crystals straddling the waterfront Zurriola promenade. Floating inside the larger canted cube is an 1,800-seat theater for plays and music, dance, and zarzuela performances; the smaller box shelters a 600-seat conference center. Three terraces connect the cubes. Summer and fall offerings at the Kursaal include a jazz festival, a Musical Fortnight and an international film festival. For information, call 34-94/300-3000.