Housed in a magnificent early 20th century theater, El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is one of the biggest bookstores in South America, and thanks to the vision of architects Peró and Torres Armengol, it is now one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
The building originally housed the theater Teatro Grand Splendid in the 1920s that held popular shows, including performances by the famous tango singers Carlos Gardel and Ignacio Corsini.
Later, it was converted into a movie theater and showed the first sound films presented in Argentina. Grand Splendid was once again briefly converted back into a theater. and then back to a movie house.
After the last screening in 1991, poor economic condition forced the theater to be closed down. It was slated for demolition until the Ilhsa Group, owner of the El Ateneo publishing house, stepped in.
They bought the building in 2000 and subsequently renovated and converted it into a book and music shop. It quickly gained recognition as one of the world’s most majestic bookstores.