El Ateneo Book Store
If you like to read or you like theaters (and if you like one you will very likely like the other) you can not leave Buenos Aires without visiting El Ateneo Grand Splendid book store.
The book store is located in a building that used to be a theater, and that is the origin of the name of the place. The “Teatro Grand Splendid” opened in 1919, and a few years later was turned into a movie theater.
in 2000 the book stores chain “El Ateneo” restored the old theater and opened a book store, that is now one of the gems of the city.
They did a great job with the restoration, and most of the old theater was conserved. They took off the seats of course, but the rest was religiously respected. The stage, the boxes, the great ceiling, even the carpets and the old curtain remain original.
Feel free to pick a book and seat at a coffee table on the stage, or use one of the comfortable chairs in the boxes of the theater. Read for hours if you want, you will not be bothered. If you happen to get there by lunch time, try the lunch menu at the restaurant on the stage, it is good and very inexpensive.
The store has four different levels. Children books and popular music CDs in the basement, books in the first and second floor, classical music and jazz CDs in the third floor and an art gallery in the fourth floor. There is an elevator that takes you to the last level, from where you will take the best pictures of the place.
In Jan 2008, the English newspaper “The Guardian” included the Grand Splendid book store as number two among “The world´s 10 best bookshops”. You can read the article here.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is located in Santa Fe avenue, close to the corner with Callao avenue.