El Ateneo

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Buenos Aires is full of bookstores, and plenty of them are very nice. However, none of them can hold a candle to El Ateneo Grand Splendid, which has been labeled as one of the top 10 bookstores in the world. Once you’ve entered El Ateneo, it is easy to see why.

el-ateneo-grand-splendidEl Ateneo was built in 1919 by the architects Peró and Torres Armengol, at the request of Max Glücksman, an Argentine Entrpeneur and a pioneer in the music recording industry. He first made his money importing recording machines and records, which he then used to build the Teatro Gran Splendid.

Not only was the theatre home to some of the top music performances of the time, it was also used by Max to broadcast his radio show, and later to record records for some of the tango greats, including Carlos Gardel and Jose Razzano. The theatre was later used as a cinema, before being converted into one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores.

The bookstore still looks exactly like it did in it’s day, other than all the books.   There is a beautiful fresco painted on the domed roof, there is an open curtain lining the stage, and you can see all of the mouldings decorating the entire theatre, including the private boxes,where chairs are located so you can lose yourself in your favorite book.

Although the bookstore is quite large, the selection is nothing special, and if you are looking for English books, there isn’t much to go through. However, there is a true feeling of historical grandeur, and wandering through this bookstore can make your mind run wild.

There is also nice cafe on what used to be the stage, where they often have life piano music in the afternoons. The food is not great, but the desserts are tasty, and the coffee is excellent.

Bottom Line: Whether you want to just take a peak or relax in a great atmosphere, this is definitely worth a visit.

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