El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Recently honored by The Guardian as the second most beautiful bookshop in the world, El Ateneo Grand Splendid deserves the visit of booklovers, architecture fans and any other curious wanderers of the Recoleta neighbourhood.
Max Glücksmann, an Austrian immigrant who arrived in Buenos Aires in 1890, at the impressionable young age of fifteen, built the former cinema and theatre Grand Spendid in 1919. Today you will find endless corridors of bookshelves, where once the upper class porteños of the 1920s saw the first sounded movies and listened to tangos accompanied by the voice of Carlos Gardel.
Almost by an act of divine will, the building was saved from being demolished and was reopened in 2000 as a bookshop. In the words of The Guardian “El Ateneo has retained its former splendour, with high painted ceiling, original balconies and ornate carvings intact. Even the crimson stage curtains remain part of the show”.
So if you suffer from Museum phobia but would still like to taste a little bit of Buenos Aires’ golden age, step inside this “book temple” and while you enjoy your coffee imagine how a tango by Gardel might have felt like in a moment already lost in time.