El Ateneo Grand Splendid was transformed into a bookstore in 2000, and offers thousands of books for its visitors

By Eric Todisco
June 21, 2019 08:35 AM

Attention all bookworms!

Located in the Barrio Norte neighborhood of Buenos Aires, this 100-year-old theater has been transformed into a pilgrimage site for book enthusiasts (and Instagram influencers). El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore currently welcomes over one million visitors each year.

According to National Geographic, the awe inspiring store opened in 1919 as a theater of the same name and was designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengo. But in 2000, it was converted from an old movie house into a bookshop by architect Fernando Manzone, who retained much of the original theatre for the new model.

The magnificent bookstore features a large stage that serves as a reading area and cafe, with stunning crimson curtains, as well as balconies wrapping completely around the interior of the building. Thousands of books cover the main floor, as well as the balconies.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore
El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore

Comfy chairs are available for readers to sit back and relax with their book in hand. Visitors can also access the former theatre boxes, which are now used as tiny reading rooms.

The store also offers CDs and DVDs as well as a lively kids section, where children can have fun while they flip through some of their favorite reading materials.

Only a limited amount of the tomes are in English, but there is a whole area of English-written works at the front of the store, strangely with an emphasis on romance novels.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore
El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore
Mariano Gabriel Sanchez/Anadolu Agency/Getty
El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookstore

The store is a must-visit spot for tourists in the Argentinian capital, not only for the thousands of books it offers, but also for the selfie opportunities. According to National Geographic, staffers are more than happy to allow giddy visitors to snap a few pictures inside.

In 2008, El Ateneo Grand Splendid was listed as the second most beautiful bookshop in the world by The Guardian. In January of this year, National Geographic ranked it as number one on their list.

The store typically gets swamped with tourists, but January and February are the least hectic months there, National Geographic says. June is the most popular for visitors to travel to Buenos Aires. The store is open all year round.