A golden era for the Grand Splendid Theatre.
Back in it’s glory days, the Teatro Grand Splendid, hosted many tango legends including Carlos Gardel, Ignacio Corsini and many more. It was a splendid theatre with frescoed ceilings, ornate theatre boxes, balconies and red stage curtains. In 1929 the Theatre underwent a major transformation where it was converted into a cinema. The Grand Splendid became the first cinema in Buenos Aires to show sound films.
The theatre was originally built in 1919 and designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol. Sadly, the building was under threat of demolishment, due to poor economic climate and was saved by the Grupo Ilhsa. El Ateneo is one of the biggest bookshop chains in South America.
The project to convert the cinema to a bookshop was overseen by architect Fernando Manzone. He did a great job to preserve the splendid of the former theatre and cinema. Today it is one of the most luxurious bookstores in the world. In fact, The Guardian, voted it as the second most beautiful bookstore in the world. The Grand Splendid has proven itself befitting of its majestic title!
Visitors can still revel in this wondrous monument of a bygone era.
It was a cloudy day in Buenos Aires, when I decided to pay the El Ateneo Gran Splendid a visit. From the outside the building doesn’t look like much. The place comes alive as soon as you set foot inside this beautiful bookstore. It is simply stunning and I have never seen anything like this before. The space has been transformed into racks and racks of books as far as the eye can see. The stage, the main scenario of the theatre, has been converted into a coffee shop.
The architecture is amazing and it is a wonderful example of adaptive re-use. No space was wasted and the original splendour of the theatre was preserved and visitors can still revel in its former glory and beauty.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore.
The bookshop is very busy as it attracts many visitors and tourists. Tourists mainly go to take photos of the architecture but many Argentines come here to buy books. Yes, bookshops are very popular among Argentines. If you have time to spare, grab a novel and snuggle up in one of the box seats. Don’t forget to admire the ornate boxes or the spectacular dome that was painted by the Italian artist, Nazareno Orlandi. It depicts and allegory for peace after WWII and is truly beautiful.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid does not have a huge collection of English books but you will find a number of novels and mystery books here. There are many books on Latin American Art, Photography, cuisine, guide books, Argentine culture, children’s books, Latin American writers, music and DVD’s.
If bookshops are not your thing, pop in anyway and admire the architecture and atmosphere from the stage, where you can have a coffee and something to eat.
[v_icon color=”#1e73be” size=”18px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-office”] Avenida Santa Fe 1860, between Riobamba and Callao, Recoleta
[v_icon color=”#1e73be” size=”18px” target=”_blank” name=”moon-phone”] 4813-6052
Monday to Thursday: 9am to 10pm
Friday and Saturday: 9am to 12am
Sunday: 12pm to 10pm