El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Photo credit: deensel on Visualhunt / CC BY

Website: https://www.yenny-elateneo.com/local/grand-splendid/

Physical address: Avenida Santa Fe 1860, C1123 CABA, Argentina

Phone number: +54 11 4813 6052

Business hours: Monday to Thursday 9am-10pm; Friday & Saturday 9am-12am; Sunday 12pm-10pm

Opened in 1919 as the Teatro Grand Splendid, the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop in Buenos Aires has maintained more than its original name. With publications like The Guardian and National Geographic naming it among the world’s most beautiful book shops, the Grand Splendid is a particularly fitting title for a store that still contains frescoed ceilings, plush red curtains, a stage and theatre boxes, and more than 100,000 books.

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Literature steals the show at this century-old theater in Buenos Aires. 📚 As we explore design in Argentina’s capital, we asked @loopegarcia, a local restauranteur and creative director, to show us a few places that appeal to design lovers. In a city of many bookstores, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is at the top of the list. It opened as a theatre during what @loopegarcia called “the golden age of Buenos Aires.” A decade later it became a cinema, and in 2000 the architect Fernando Manzone converted it into the palatial bookstore it is today — with theater boxes, curtains and frescoes intact. Once you’ve taken your photos of the golden stacks, pause with a snack in the cafe, on a stage that was once home to tango dancers. 💃 #DesignSpaces: Throughout August, we’re exploring design in #BuenosAires. Watch our story to see @loopegarcia’s tips for design lovers who plan to visit. 📸: @yadidlevyphotography . . . #elateneograndsplendid #literatura #DesignSpacesBuenosAires #teatro #diseño #decoración #arquitectura #interiorismo #grandsplendid #shelfie #librariesofinstagram #bookstagram #bookshop

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When it first opened, the Grand Splendid quickly became a hot spot for cultural life, hosting performances of plays, ballet, opera and, of course, tango. In 1924, it was the home of a local radio station, and later in the 1920s was converted into a cinema, from which the first film with sound was shown in 1929. Prior to that, live musical performances accompanied the silent films. Financial difficulties almost forced the theatre to close in the late 1990s, but a lease by Grupo Ilhsa saved the building, and saw it converted to a bookshop in 2000.

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El Ateneo Grand Splendid Edifício inagurado em maio de 1919 para abrigar o teatro Gran Splendid. Tinha capacidade para abrigar 1.050 espectadores. Foi palco de várias apresentações, incluindo espetáculos de tango, com nomes famosos como Carlos Gardel. No final da década de 1920, o teatro foi convertido em um cinema e em 1929 mostrou os primeiros filmes sonoros apresentados na Argentina. O antigo teatro ornamentado foi arrendado em fevereiro de 2000, sendo posteriormente renovado e convertido em uma loja de livros e músicas. Hoje é uma das mais conhecidas livrarias em Buenos Aires. Foi classificada como a segunda livraria mais bonita do mundo. 😍 #livraria #buenosairesargentina #buenosaires #elateneo #elateneograndsplendid #livros #viagem #turismo #travel #viajar #trip #ferias #amoviajar #instatravel #viagens #fotografia #instagood #travelgram #dicasdeviagem #viajando #libros #library #libreria

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Although the 1,050 seats were removed to make way for shelves, many of the theatre’s original features remain. A café has been installed at the back of the stage, so patrons can enjoy a beverage while they peruse the store’s offerings, and comfortable chairs throughout the building provide ideal nooks for making the most of one’s newest purchases. More than one million people a year visit El Ateneo Grand Splendid, so there may be a wait for the more popular spots, including the theatre boxes, which provide both privacy and a view of the stage.

Most of the books are, of course, in Spanish, but some English titles – mainly crime and romance – are available. Children’s titles can be found in the basement, and the upper floors house exhibitions and beautiful views out over the rest of the store.

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