El Ateneo Grand Splendid

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Interior of the store.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid is one of the best known bookshops in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2008, The Guardian placed it as the second most beautiful bookshop in the world.[1]

Overview[edit]

Facade of the building.

Situated at 1860 Santa Fe Avenue in Barrio Norte,[2] the building was designed by the architects Peró and Torres Armengol[3] for the empresario Max Glücksmann (1875-1946), and opened as a theatre called Teatro Gran Splendid in May 1919.[4] The ecleticist building features ceiling frescoes painted by the Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi and caryatids sculpted by Troiano Troiani,[3] whose work also graces the cornice along the Palacio de la Legislatura de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

The theatre had a seating capacity of 1,050, and staged a variety of performances, including appearances by the tango artists Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo and Ignacio Corsini. Glücksmann started his own radio station in 1924 (Radio Splendid), which broadcast from the building where his recording company, Nacional Odeón, made some of the early recordings of the great tango singers of the day. In the late twenties the theatre was converted into a cinema, and in 1929 showed the first sound films presented in Argentina.

The ornate former theatre was leased by Grupo Ilhsa in February 2000.[5] Ilhsa, through Tematika, owns El Ateneo and Yenny booksellers (totaling over 40 stores), as well as the El Ateneo publishing house. The building was subsequently renovated and converted into a book and music shop under the direction of the architect Fernando Manzone;[5] the cinema seating was removed and in its place book shelves were installed. Following refurbishment works, the 2,000 m² (21,000 ft²)[6] El Ateneo Grand Splendid became the group's flagship store, and in 2007 sold over 700,000 books; over a million people walk through its doors annually.

Chairs are provided throughout the building, including the still-intact theatre boxes, where customers can dip into books before purchase, and there is now a café on the back of what was once the stage. The ceiling, the ornate carvings, the crimson stage curtains, the auditorium lighting and many architectural details remain. Despite the changes, the building still retains the feeling of the grand theatre it once was.[7] The Guardian, a prominent British periodical, named El Ateneo Grand Splendid second in its 2008 list of the world's ten best bookshops.[1]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dodson, Sean (11 January 2008). "Top shelves". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 2) El Ateneo in Buenos Aires 
  2. ^ San Martín, Raquel (17 January 2008). "El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo" [El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a jewel among the libraries of the world]. La Nación (in Spanish) (Buenos Aires). Retrieved 10 May 2015. Ayer, los empleados de la librería porteña -en Santa Fe 1860- comentaban la noticia. 
  3. ^ a b San Martín, Raquel (17 January 2008). "El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo" [El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a jewel among the libraries of the world]. La Nación (in Spanish) (Buenos Aires). Retrieved 10 May 2015. El teatro fue diseñado por los arquitectos Peró y Torres Armengol a principios de siglo, con 4 hileras de palcos, 500 butacas, una cúpula pintada por el italiano Nazareno Orlandi y esculturas de Troiani a los costados del escenario y en la marquesina de estilo griego del frente. 
  4. ^ San Martín, Raquel (17 January 2008). "El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo" [El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a jewel among the libraries of the world]. La Nación (in Spanish) (Buenos Aires). Retrieved 10 May 2015. Esta semana, la librería porteña ocupó el segundo lugar en la lista de las diez librerías más importantes del mundo por su esplendor arquitectónico, según el diario británico The Guardian , que destacó la conservación del interior del edificio, inaugurado en mayo de 1919 y convertido en librería 81 años más tarde, en 2000. 
  5. ^ a b San Martín, Raquel (17 January 2008). "El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo" [El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a jewel among the libraries of the world]. La Nación (in Spanish) (Buenos Aires). Retrieved 10 May 2015. En febrero de 2000, el Grupo Ilhsa firmó un contrato de alquiler por 10 años sobre el edificio e invirtió 3 millones de pesos en remodelaciones, a cargo del estudio del arquitecto Fernando Manzone. 
  6. ^ San Martín, Raquel (17 January 2008). "El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo" [El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a jewel among the libraries of the world]. La Nación (in Spanish) (Buenos Aires). Retrieved 10 May 2015. En tres plantas alfombradas, que conservan el rojo y dorado original, la librería tiene 2000 metros cuadrados totales. 
  7. ^ Dodson, Sean (11 January 2008). "Top shelves". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 May 2015. As you can see from this photomontage the El Ateneo has retained its former splendour, with high painted ceiling, original balconies and ornate carvings intact. 

Coordinates: 34°35′46″S 58°23′39″W / 34.5961°S 58.3942°W / -34.5961; -58.3942