Argentina can boast of many things – the widest river Rio de la Plata, the longest street Avenida Rivadavia, success in football, rich literature and cultural scenarios, beautiful natural wonders, and many more. However, the country can also boast of having a very beautiful as well as luxurious bookstore – the El Atenneo Grand Splendid!
As the name suggests, the bookshop is really a splendid place. In 2008, The Guardian has given it the second place in the list of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. Architects Peró and Torres Armengol designed the building for Max Glücksmann, a pioneer of the country’s music and film industries.
Located in the capital city’s 1860 Santa Fe Avenue, the building was first opened in May 1919 as a theater called Teatro Gran Splendid, which was the foreground of the country’s artists and performers, especially of the tango artists. It was turned into a cinema theater in the late twenties where Argentina’s first sound movies were displayed.
Grupo Ilhsa leased it in February 2000 and renovated it into a bookshop under the supervision of architect Fernando Manzone. Currently, it is one of the biggest bookstores and possibly the most luxurious one in South America.
Several artists worked for the beautification of the building. Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi painted the frescos on the ceiling while Troiano Troiani sculpted the caryatids and decorated the cornice. The interior had not been changed much after its renovation into a book and music shop though bookshelves were installed in the place of seating.
Many architectural details along with the fancy carvings, ceiling frescos, stylish curved balconies, meticulous trimmings, red curtains of the stage, and the lighting of the auditorium have remained the same. The theater boxes are still unchanged and chairs have been placed all over the building so that the visitors can comfortably sit and take a look inside the books.
The architects and designers have turned the building into a splendid and beautiful book and music shop. However, in essence, it still exudes Buenos Aires’s nostalgic elegance.
The Bookworms’ Delight
Buenos Aires is a bookworm’s city, which is the home of bargain bookshops and cozy cafes on every corner where people can snuggle up with a book. In fact, it has more bookshops per inhabitant than any other city in the world and the El Ateneo Grand Splendid is the pivot of that scenario. If you are a person who likes to explore the bookstores wherever you go, you should definitely visit this bookshop.
You can spend time walking the balconies and seeing the store from different angles. The stage on the back has been turned into a new café where the visitors can enjoy a book while listening to live piano music and sipping onto a cup of hot coffee or taking a quick bite. There is an extensive children’s section in the basement along with the displays of music and DVDs. It is a good place for spending some quality time with your family.
The El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a popular place visited by both book lovers and enthusiastic tourists. In fact, more than a million people walk through its doors annually.