Here in the Argentine capital, the El Ateneo bookstore is housed in what used to be a magnificent theatre. The theatre opened in 1919 and featured a wide variety of artistic performances from plays to tango dancers. Later it became a movie theater. This is a classical style theater that was culturally significant.
The man who built it, a pioneer in Argentina’s music recording and film in history,was known for providing various forms of cultural expression, such as theater, cinema, radio and music. In the 1990s, the building was destined for the wrecking ball. But the owner of the El Ateneo bookstore chain saved the theater through extensive renovation, turning it into one of the world’s most spectacular bookstores. One of the things I thought about doing in Argentina with my husband was to visit the bookstore. We are both lovers of literature and we know that this is a temple for those who are passionate about the written word.The environment here is an inspiration. The bookstore gives a nod to its theatrical past with the stage and curtains still in place. And its beautiful ceiling frescoes fully restored.
The old theater boxes provide a private space for people to read. Huge numbers of visitors from around the world come to the impressive bookstore each year. We read about this library on the internet, how it was formerly a theater,and it’s converted to the library and our guy was telling us is the best library in the world. So I love books. In every city that we visit, we try to go to a bookstore. So we thought this is a perfect place to come to. There is plenty to read in the 21,000 square metre space, a paradise for bookworms.
Deborah Block VOA News