Most beautiful bookstore - Buenos Aires's Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid

Bueno Aires's Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid used to be a beautiful movie palace. Saved from the wrecker's ball, it is now one of the most majestic bookstores I've ever clapped eyes upon, a veritable temple to books.

Marilyn sez, "El Ateneo Grand Splendid in downtown Buenos Aires is a spectacular bookstore that retains all the glamour of its former life as a 1920s movie palace, with a original balconies, painted ceiling, ornate carvings and crimson stage curtains. Photo by Bob Krist for National Geographic Traveler. The Guardian named El Ateneo as one of the top ten bookshops in the world (along with Secret Headquarters):'Where else can you sit in a theater box and leisurely read a volume of Neruda, or sip a cortado where Carlos Gardel once performed?'"

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid (Thanks, Marilyn!)


  1. Absolutely lovely. It’s great when fabulous spaces like this are re-purposed rather then demolished.

  2. where Carlos Gardel once performed

    Now you’re speaking my language. I’ll bet there’s still some leftover tango in those book aisles. :-)


  3. I’ve been to this bookstore, had coffee in the little cafe that is the part at the back behind the stage curtains, and just was blissed out the whole time. If you are a book worshipper, it’s worth a trip to Buenos Aires just to go here. (The rest of the city is pretty amazing, too!) I’ve been to Budapest too, but this place wins (the store AND coffee shop are the same place…)

  4. This gem of a store was our little oasis from the noise and pollution of Buenos Aires, the city my wife and I explored for our tenth anniversary. Porteños are surprisingly generous about WiFi, and this place was no exception.

  5. The most amazing bookstore I have ever been to was one in Newtown, Sydney. We were on a school excursion for art, and we were wandering around the streets, looking at op-shops and we found this place. Every available space was lined with books. The shelves weren’t arranged in any manner whatsoever, in fact, many of the books were just stacked in piles between the aisles. A thin layer of dust covered everything. A strange man with a long beard and crazy white hair watched us from behind a desk on a raised platform, with a large, lurid mural behind it.
    The best part of the store though, was a sign at a window at the far of the store, telling people to leave the area around the window vacant, as the resident cat used it to enter and exit through. Another sign next to it, entitled “CAT INTRUDER” warned of an a similar looking impostor cat who snuck in through the same “cat pathway” to take advantage of customers hospitality. The sign had a list of ways to identify which was the real cat, and warned us to pay no heed to the false cat.

  6. Hey, that’s 25 blocks away from my home. Been inside that library many times. It’s really gorgeous!

  7. Wow… absolutely gorgeous… a truly novel destination!

    @ Tuckels… the bookshop you’re referring to is Gould’s. This marvellous eccentric has been a part of Sydney’s cultural landscape for decades, and his bookshops (emporiums really) regularly yield up fantastic finds – you need time and a love of a rummage, but well worth it. A totally different kind of wonderful to Buenos Aires, but wonderful nevertheless :-)

  8. The building it’s certainly impressive, but the quality of the bookstore itself is nothing to write home about. It belongs to one of Argentina’s largest book retailers (Yenny/El Ateneo) which in the last few years seems to be more interested in selling anything but books (be it DVDs, puzzles, calendars, etc). It has one of the widest selection of argentine books, but it’s seriously lacking in imported books, when compared to other bookstores (Kel, Capitulo 2 and Cuspide for technical books).

  9. Of all architecture that meets the wrecking ball, or at the very least does not receive its proper respect, the ones that pain me the most are old movie houses. These were palaces built for the common man, when movies were more than blockbuster bottom-line and theater and vaudeville defined entertainment. Now they fight for the lives, and dwindle one-by-one. It makes me so happy when people even maintain the space to still be usable, and ecstatic when they are renovated to their former glory.

    I think of decrepit downtowns like Detroit or Los Angeles, once filled with bustling movie houses now left to deteriorate and be picked over by looters. And the fact that one can get so close to them, even stand under the marquees or lobbies, and hear them call out in neglect, it really makes me sad.

    This theater come library gives me much hope.

  10. I was just here yesterday, fantastic place. Expected to whip through for half an hour on the way out of town and wound up killing 3 hours there… despite linguistic gaps on my part keeping me from enjoying any of the more word-heavy books.

  11. Ouch. I always hated that bookstore because they ruined the most beautiful cinema I have ever been. I just could go there twice before they ruined it.

  12. Beautiful. Would that I had money to travel and relax with a book in these serene places.

  13. Buenos Dias! your books are so amazing. You can learn many things on all topics.

    there are a lot of books you can choose from. spice up your cravings with information from Buenos Libreria el grande.

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