A post about a bookstore? – Sounds like a campaign to promote readership or some other completely boring thing. But there’s a twist. – It might be the most beautiful bookstore in the world (I’ve never been to a prettier one), created with a great concept in the building of an old theatre. Marvellous El Ateneo!!!
The day is miserable. It’s been raining non-stop since the early morning. The temperature decreased as well. We lazily get out of bed and quickly reach the conclusion that we probably won’t do anything outside today – the gardens we planned to see will need to wait, but a bookstore seems like just the right place to visit.
Situated by Avenida Santa Fe, it looks quite inconspicuous. If you don’t pay attention, you might pass it by thinking it’s an entrance to a hotel or some restaurant. Once you take a closer look and make a turn in the right moment, you’ll go “wow” right after you enter. I couldn’t stop myself.
The building has been erected in 1912, as commemorated by a plaque hanging inside. From 1919 onwards it was the home of Grand Teatro Splendid, whose audience could hold up to a thousand people. A movie theatre opened here in the late 20s, while since 2000 it’s the home of the El Ateneo bookstore.
The concept was genius. – Building a bookstore that fits perfectly into a theatre space and fills four floors. The first two ones, the ground floor and the first floor, are occupied by book collections from every possible genre. We were mostly interested in the music, the tango, as well as travels across South America, so: books, maps and guides. The selection isn’t huge, but we did manage to find a road map of Argentina. Plus, we found new books, or rather an entire new collection of books on the history of tango. We also visited the second floor for a bit in order to take a look at the music and films. The -1 floor is the kingdom of kids, so we didn’t go there this time around.
There’s a lot of people just walking around, some sitting down and reading. What’s interesting, even the balconies were utilized – there’s book collections there, as well as chairs you can sit down on and enjoy a book. What used to be the theatre’s scene has been transformed into a cafe. You’d be hard-pressed to find an unoccupied table.
One simply enjoys the time spent here. No point of me going on about it, just take a look at the photos, or actually maybe watch the video first, if you still haven’t done it :) It’ll be much easier to sense the “feel” of the place.