The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstore

Written by | Travel

The El Ateneo Grand Splendid Bookstore located at 1860 Santa Fe Avenue, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is not your ordinary bookstore.

It has been voted one of the most beautiful bookshop in the world. So what makes this bookstore unique?

It opened as a theater called Teatro Gran Splendid in May 1919, and in February 2000, the building was renovated and converted into a book and music shop. With 21,000 square feet of retail space, it welcomes over a million guests each year from all over the world.

The cinema seating was removed and in its place bookshelves were installed. The stage is now a coffee shop. (You have to try their meat empanadas! They are to die for!) The box office is now the cashier’s desk.

Upon entry, you step up into what used to be a large performing arts venue. The main floor is split wide open by the staircase down to the music and children’s section. The upper levels have a smaller rotunda and then an open section facing the main stage.

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Despite the renovation, the architect was able to maintain the grand elements of the theater – the frescoes on the ceiling, the ornate carvings, the grand staircase, the crimson stage curtains, the auditorium lighting, and many architectural details remain. The building still retains the feeling of the grand theater it once was.

Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each Tuesday and Thursday.

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Last modified: August 16, 2019