Oh how I’d just love the chance to travel to Argentina to check out this magnificent book shop!
Located in Buenos Aires and designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol, the original building, a theatre known as Teatro Gran Splendid, opened its doors in 1919. With a seating capacity of just over 1,0o0, the interior balconies, ceiling frescoes, sculptures and ornate carvings, established it as an icon.
Leased by Grupo Ilhsa in 2000, architect Fernando Manzone directed renovations which oversaw its conversion to a book shop. With theatre seating removed to enable the installation of book shelves, the look and feel of this enormous space remains that of the original magnificent building. Now operating as the flagship store of El Ateneo Grand Splendid, more than a million people visit annually.
With a cafe located where the stage once was and with a pianist playing in the afternoon, a unique blend of theatre and book shop has been created.
Be sure to brush up on you Spanish before visiting though – I’ve read that the English collection in this magnificent bookshop is quite small!