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A Slice of Buenos Aires »« First 24 Hours in Buenos Aires

The Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore

Link: We just published our first Travel Book

Argentinians are a famously literary people. In coffee shops, parks, on the bus and even while walking down city streets, their heads are often buried in a book. So it’s only fitting that Buenos Aires can lay claim to one of the world’s most incredible book stores: the Ateneo Grand Splendid.

Ateneo Grand Splendid

Soon after we arrived, Jürgen asked what I wanted to do first in Buenos Aires. “ATENEO ATENEO!” I squealed instantly, clapping my hands and making a mess in my pants. Then the squealing again. A guidebook photograph of the theater-turned-bookstore had lodged itself in my heart, and I was determined to visit as soon as possible.

First, let’s admire that name. There’s no pretense of modesty in christening your theater the Grand Splendid. Built in 1919 by an Italian architect in the eclectic style, the theater entertained Buenos Aires for a decade with top-tier tango concerts, before it was converted into a popular cinema. In 2000, the building was leased by a publishing house and found new life as a bookstore.

The conversion from theater to bookshop has proved nothing short of magnificent. The painted ceiling, detailed balconies, and stage are all intact. The private boxes are now small reading rooms. The stage is a café, where you can sit and peruse the books you’re considering buying. And though it occupies three floors, there’s not an overwhelming selection. The shelves fit perfectly around the theater’s original shape, and comfortable chairs are scattered throughout.

The Ateneo Grand Splendid is a bookstore in which to spend a leisurely couple hours. Choose a couple books and get cozy in a theater box. And if you get weary of reading, just look around; there’s plenty to feast your eyes on.

Location of the Ateneo on our BA Map

Short Term Rental in Buenos Aires

Ateneo Theater
Ateneo
Grand Splendid
Buenos Aires Bookstore
Buenos Aires Tourists
Books Buenos Aires
Hanging Out Bookstore
Tourismo Buenos Aires
Reading Buenos Aires
Balcony Reading Room
Ateneo Balcony
Ateneo Lamp
Old Tango Theater
Bookstore Theater
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February 9, 2011 at 12:23 am
28 comments »
  • February 9, 2011 at 8:13 pmKristin M

    OMG.

    This sounds like my kind of place. It’s beautiful! Plus, I’m such an English nerd…I love books. I must go here someday!

  • February 11, 2011 at 8:07 amnelsoen delacroix

    i luv this bookstore!! spent quite some time browsing. the cafe in the back is great place to relax, have an espresso and read. must go back. must go back.

  • February 11, 2011 at 11:57 pmJanice Talley

    What a fantastic idea to turn a theatre into a book store. It’s such a beautiful building.

    Please share more about how you communicate with people where you travel. Do you speak several languages? How do they receive Americans? Do you feel safe there?

    Thanks,
    Janice

  • February 14, 2011 at 9:08 pmJuergen

    We will def. go back there. I want to look at this German / Buenos Aires Architecture book.

    Janice – we both speak English, German and Spanish. You will find more people here speaking English than for example in Valencia, Spain.

    Everyone so far we have met have been super friendly. They were some moments I didn’t feel the safest, mostly because I had my camera with me at night in La Boca. But in general I would say I’m not feeling in danger. But people get mugged here all the time. So travelling with an other person is not a bad idea. San Telmo and Palermo I never felt unsafe.

  • February 19, 2011 at 1:18 amAndres

    I bought dozens of art books there. It was difficult to travel with them… ;<) But the bookstore it's really great, and it deserves a visit when you go to Buenos Aires.

  • March 4, 2011 at 3:31 pmDuska Vrhovac

    It’s beautiful!
    I adore Buenos Aires.
    It will be a world holiday of book – Feria Internacional del Libro de Buenos Aires! I will be present in Antología Sensual, “El rostro secreto de Eros”, publisher Parnassus, patria de artistas. Unfortunately, I will not be there present personaly..:( Saludos desde Belgrado, Serbia.

  • April 5, 2011 at 9:48 pmMike

    Stunning. I must go there.

  • May 16, 2011 at 3:13 pmAyngelina

    Finally heading there today, I don’t know what took so long.

  • September 3, 2011 at 6:51 amjenjenk

    oh my gosh, i am hyperventilating just looking at the gorgeous bookstore.  I’d have thought I’d died and gone to heaven if I got to go there!!!! 

  • December 31, 2011 at 4:37 pmK C Mellem

    I wish I’d read your
    columns on Buenos Aires before traveling there. Now, I’m happy to say that we
    did visit many of the places you enjoyed and recommended, including the wonderful Ateneo.
    You are living my dream life. :-) I’ve
    purchased the Buenos Aires ebook and plan to buy all of them. Do consider
    publishing on paper! Your collected columns are better than guide books!

    ¡Felicidades en el año que
    viene!  Alles Gute und Liebe im neuen Jahr!  Happy trails!

     


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