El Ateneo is 100 years old this year. It was established in 1912 as a theatre.
When we walked into it we were in the front section which would have been the foyer. The foyer was a good size and is now filled with books.
|The cafe is to the right where the stage once was.|
|The painting on the ceiling in the dome.|
The stage was straight ahead and is now a lovely, good sized cafe. As we were both a bit peckish and tired of walking in crowded streets we headed to a table and ordered coffees, lemon pies and cold water. All of which were delicious.
|The view from the cafe.|
There is a large children's section at the back of the second level that is colourful and well lit.
The basement is filled with CD music and more DVD's. There are stands where one can listen to various music through headphones if interested. We enjoyed the music that was currently being played.The basement has escalators going to it.
From the ground floor (called first floor in the Americas) we went up carpeted stairs to the second floor. It is a circular mezzanine area with the children's section at the back over the cafe/stage.
The third floor was set up the same with classical music, opera and other choral pieces for sale.
There is also a small photography gallery of beautiful black and white photographs of the well known actors who performed previously in the theatre.
There are some glass display cases set up with some of the theatre memorabilia items in them.
One of the things I really enjoyed were the boxed seat areas where all of the important people would have previously watched the stage performances. There are three levels of boxed seats on both sides of the stage that have been made into little reading rooms. A couple of them had small tables set up where one could hold a meeting or small get together.
People are able to go into the boxes through a door they can then close and sit in comfortable chairs to read in privacy.
We spent more than an hour in this store and thank goodness all of the books were in Spanish so I was not tempted to buy any which has always been a weakness of mine during past travels.
Walking into this store is like walking in to a cathedral without having to hear any sermons or feel any guilt, unless the Spanish population spend too much on their books, which would be very easy to do as all of them are beautiful.
We have been reading Kindles for the past 5 weeks so it was wonderful to be amongst "real" books again. It is certainly a store I will never forget. It is almost enough to make me want to sign up for Spanish classes in case I ever come back to this store again. Long may it last.