Buenos Aires (Argentina) – The Bookshop Capital of the World

Today let’s visit one of the most beautiful cities of the world – Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Buenos Aires is not only Argentina’s capital and largest city, but is also second-largest metropolitan area in South America.

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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has been witness to many political events, turmoils, mass immigration waves in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is now home to almost 3 000 000 people. What truly makes this city special is it’s culture. Visual arts, music and cinema thrive in Buenos Aires, but let’s focus a bit more on the city’s incredible love for Literature.

Buenos Aires is home to many old and famous literary cafés, like like Café Tortoni, Café La Biela, Esquina Homero Manzi, Confitería Las Violetas, Confitería London City and Confitería Hotel Castelar.

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Oldest coffee-shop in Argentina, Café Tortoni, was founded in 1858. It welcomed many famous personas over the years, like Jorge Louis Borges, Carlos Gardel and Alfonsina Storni.

This city also hosts “Buenos Aires International Book Fair”, with over 1 million visitors per year arguably the most important annual literary event in the Spanish speaking world.

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There are many different theories why the people of Argentina, and ESP Buenos Aires, care for reading so much, but the fact remains that when it comes to numbers this city takes the flag in many areas. With 734 bookstores it has more bookshops per person than any other city in the world. When it comes to second hand bookstores per person, it placed third in the world.
Antonio Dalto, business manager of the Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop., describes this cultural phenomena:
“Culture is very important to the people of Buenos Aires. Even young kids read books, we see them here every day. Books for teenagers are one of our biggest sellers,” said Dalto.

Also, it seems that Argentina has more psychologists per inhabitant than any other country in the world, which could also be linked to its love for literature and reading, as a form of satisfying the curiosity about how the mind works and how emotions affect us.

 

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El Alteneo Grand Splendid


The most well know bookstore in Buenos Aires is, by far, El Ateneo Grand Splendid. In 2008 it was named the second most beautiful bookstore in the world by The Guardian.
It was build in 1919 as a theatre (designed by the architects Peró and Torres Armengol) under the name of “Teatro Gran Splendid”.

 

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Teatro Gran Splendid

In 2000 the theatre was renovated and converted into a bookshop under the direction of the architect Fernando Manzone. It draws an incredible number of people – over a million visitors annualy.

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El Alteneo Grand Splendid

Al Alteneo might be the most representative bookshop in Buenos Aires, but since it’s definitely not the only bookstore gem in the city, lets mention some of the others.

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Walrus Books is a centre for used english books, definitely a place that might be interesting for foreign tourists.
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Libros del Pasaje is a bookshop that successfully combines literature, coffee and music – a place where a visitor can stay and enjoy for a while.

 

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Dain Usina Cultural calls itself a “Cultural Factory”, a place that celebrates culture in all its forms.

 

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Eterna Cadencia is another bookstore in Buenos Aires that offers more than just books to buy – it’s a place where one can read, explore and dine. It also has a “living room” with couches so visitors can truly feel like at home.

Buenos Aires cherishes its cultural heritage and is also working hard to build a new one. Book lovers around the world are happy to see that literature is valued and explored in this remarkable city.

By Ana Jembrek

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