In Buenos Aires’s posh downtown, a nearly 100-year-old theater called El Ateneo Grand Splendid still holds a packed house every day. But it’s not theater-goers who throng the aisles—it’s book lovers.
Built in 1919 (Spanish), the theater was designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol, with its dome, which remains today, created by Italian painter Nazareno Orlandi. The theater’s performances included tango, until 1929, when it became a cinema house. In 2000, the gorgeous theater was converted to a bookstore, and today it stocks around 120,000 books in its balconies, boxes, and former orchestra area. While that may not sound like much compared to the 2 million titles at New York’s Strand Book Store, the Ateneo has an ambiance all its own.
Here’s a look at one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores: