Buenos Aires, Argentina is said to have more live theater than any other city in the world. In my 10 days there I even saw an impromptu performance on a subway, which at first I thought was a real argument.
With all of these theaters it is bound to have one or two that go out of business – like this one.
Ah but Buenos Aires is smart enough not to tear it down. Adolfo de Vincenzi purchased the theater and restored it into a bookstore called the El Ateneo! This translates in English to anthenaeum, which was a school in ancient Rome. The word is commonly used for libraries, etc.
The results were spectacular. Numerous publications, including National Geographic, have named the El Ateneo these most beautiful bookstore in the world. I agree.
In addition to the main level, two of the upper levels have books.
The cafe is located on the stage.
The old lighting controls are also located in the cafe.
No matter the angle of view, it is amazing.
In addition to housing the children’s section, the lower level has a small display detailing the history of the theater.
As with many old theaters, the ceiling has a great mural.
The El Ateneo – a true Buenos Aires treasure.