Even if a performance anxiety is your second name, you will not want to leave THIS stage.
Built in 1919, El Ateneo Grand Splendid Theater in Buenos Aires hosted numerous tango celebrities such as Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo or even the tango guru Carlos Gardel himself. Even after being converted into a movie theater in 1926, the spirit of tango never left the place – the silent films were accompanied here by live tango orchestras.
Today El Ateneo is the most recognizable bookstore in Argentina. A couple of years ago British newspaper The Guardian named it the second most beautiful bookstore in the world. We haven’t seen the winner, but if it puts El Ateneo behind, it must be a heaven of a literature trade!
Before you purchase a novel, you might allow yourself a peek into its action while sitting in the stylish ornate theater boxes. And when you become exhausted from the book shopping, you might get your strength back heading to the stage – it has been transformed into a glamorous (and expensive) café, with a variety of cakes, helado (ice cream) and tarts to choose from. And when waiting for the carbohydrates to ignite your vitality, don’t forget to look up at the beautiful dome, which retains its original Romantic-style frescos celebrating the end of the First World War.
If you’re lucky, you might witness a live piano concert – thanks to the great acoustic it’s audible even behind the book shelves. But even without the live music the ambiance of El Ateneo will make your soul sing and your camera eager for more shots. Perhaps that’s why you’ll get the impression that there are more visitors in the bookstore than the actual customers. Yes, the place is popular with the tourists, but hey, there is a perfectly good reason for that!