I just returned from an incredible week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where my good friend Emily is living and working as a photographer and journalist. This bustling city has a wonderful mix of porteños and expats, authentic tango and awesomely bad 80s music, parrillas and pizza. I took in a fair amount of performing and visual arts, and I’ll be posting about my tango experience soon.
On the second day of my trip, Emily and I went to El Ateneo, a well-known bookshop that used to be a theater called Teatro Grand Splendid. Built in 1919, the theater seated 1,050 people and staged operas and tango performances. The theater was converted into a cinema in the late 1920s, and in 2000, it was renovated to become a bookstore. The stage is now a café, and the orchestra seating and rings are filled with books. With the curtains, stage lighting, beautiful ceiling, and carpeting intact, El Ateneo still feels very much like a theater. It’s certainly the most luxurious bookstore I’ve visited. After wandering through each ring and marveling at the number of books in this enormous space, we headed to the café seating on the stage with piles of reading.
El Ateneo bookstore in Buenos Aires
El Ateneo’s ceiling