El Ateneo – from Opera House to Bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina

El Ateneo – from Opera House to Bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This bookstore has been in business for quite some time, nevertheless it still deserves to be honored. The story of the place started in May 1919 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; it opened as a theater named Teatro Gran Splendid. The building, designed by Pero and Torres Armengol, had a capacity of 1,050 sits and covered plenty of various performances. Later on in late the twenties it was converted into a cinema and in 1929 it premiered the first film with voice presented in Argentina.

In 2000, the opera premises were leased by El Ateneo and Yenni booksellers - Grupo Ilhsa. This decision brought a big makeover to the place’s ideology yet not the outlook. The building of 2,000 square meters ( 21,000 square feet) experienced only a slight renovation under the direction of the architect Fernando Manzone; the cinema seats were removed in order to give space for bookshelves. On the other hand all the architectural detail work of the interior were preserved since the first days of the theater – the ceiling, painted by Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi, the carvings, stage curtains and many others. This designers decision maintains the antique vibe of the past. El Ateneo Grand Splendid indeed became the splendid source of books and music shopping. The fame of the store around the country made it one of the best known in Argentina as well as Grupo Ilhsa’s flagship store.


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