Remember that amazing library room from Disney’s Beauty & the Beast? Well apparently there’s a real world equivalent that’ll put the animated marvel to shame. The El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina is basically a paperback palace that will make you want to throw your e-reader into the sea. Or at the very least, get lost in a good book.
From the outside, it’s a large but otherwise unassuming bookstore in the heart of the Barrio Norte neighborhood. But step inside, and you’re met with breathtaking views of fresco ceilings, opulent plush curtains, soaring balconies, and all the trimmings that make this a store unlike any other.
Oh, and you’ll also find 21,000 square feet of books on books on books. And a few more books for good measure.
Built in 1919, the original building (then known as Teatro Grand Splendid) served as a premiere performance space for the region’s top tango talent. Dancers like Roberto Firpo and Francisco Canaro once graced the stage, dazzling audiences with the help of live musical accompaniment.
Nearly 100 years after opening, El Ateneo Grand Splendid welcomes more than 1 million visitors each year. Locals and tourists of all ages come to see the spellbinding space. It’s filled with books and music you might find at a typical chain bookstore with most of the titles in Spanish. Many cozy up with a good book in one of the former theater boxes.
Those who want a cup of coffee or a bite to eat should look no farther than the theater’s former stage. It’s now a cafe.
Some visit the store with no agenda at all. It’s the perfect place to rest, relax, and take it all in.