Buenos Aires is steeped in history and culture and bookstores play an important role in maintaining culture alive..The locals are avid readers and Buenos Aires has 25 bookstores every 100,000 people, which makes it the city with the most bookstores in the world.
I suggest a visit of three distinct areas: the Historic Center, the Financial District and the toniest neighborhood, Recoleta, through four iconic bookstores.
La Librería de Avila is the oldest of all and is located in the historic center. In a couple of blocks’ radius, we can find one historic bar, La Puerto Rico (1887), the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum), a 17th century Jesuit church, and other historical attractions. San Telmo, with its street tango shows and flea market, is a few blocks down the street. Plaza de Mayo, the Cathedral and the Cabildo, where the emancipation movement started in 1810 and which is now a museum, are a stone’s throw away.
Librería El Ateneo on Florida pedestrian thoroughfare was founded in 1912 by a Spanish immigrant. Located at 340 Florida Street, this bookstore is housed in a stately turn-of-the century building with winding staircases, tall ceilings and ornate crown moldings. There is a café upstairs that looks onto the busy street. El Ateneo is located in the Financial District and close to Plaza de Mayo, the government hub of Argentina. Activity on the street is hectic on weekdays, with banks, offices, stores, cafes, Falabella department store, street vendors and hurried people going about their business.
Libreria El Ateneo-Grand Splendid, in Recoleta, is consistently recognized as one of the top ten most beautiful bookstores in the world. The majestic building dates from 1919 and was originally a theatre. The 21,000 sq. ft. store kept the original frescoes and the gold-leaf moldings. The box seats are reading areas and the stage, with it imposing velvet curtains, is now a café. The address is 1860 Santa Fe Avenue, a densely commercial area with chain stores and independent boutiques, restaurants and cozy cafes, stately old buildings and little parks to sit and rest.
Clásica y Moderna Librería y Bar was also founded by a Spaniard in 1938. Although it started as a very prestigious bookstore, the founders’ heirs turned it into a cultural hub, where patrons can have coffee or eat a meal and listen to live music during the day, attend poetry readings and plays at night and buy a book, of course.
La Librería de Ávila: Adolfo Alsina 500
La Puerto Rico Bar: Adolfo Alsina 416
Museo de la Ciudad: Defensa 223
El Ateneo Florida: Florida 340
El Ateneo- Grand Splendid: Avenida Santa Fe 1860
Clásica y Moderna: Callao 892