Livraria Lello, Porto
First time I have visited a city where a bookshop is regarded as a tourist attraction! But the Lello & Irmão bookshop in Porto is really worth a visit - maybe it is the most beautiful bookshop in the world...
The bookshop is housed in a very beautiful building, built in the early 20th century in Neo-Gothic style. It is decorated with painted plaster imitating wood from floor to ceiling, there is a beautiful staircase, and has a stunning stained glass ceiling with the monogram and the motto of the bookshop: “Decus in Labore” (Dedication at Work). The interior looks like something from a Harry Potter movie - and rumours says that some scenes actually have been shot here...
It's the third more beautiful book shop in the world! And if this is the third, I don't want to imagine the other two... I am a book shop lover, so this was the highlight of my visit to the city. It's a wonderful, though little (I was expecting it to be bigger) building, the decoration is impressive and the stairs are absolutely stunning!
Though it exists since 1869, the building as we see it today was opened to the public in 1906, after the brothers Lello bought it and restored it. The opening of the new book shop was a major event in the city at that time, and some of the most notorious figures of the literary world were then present - like Guerra Junqueiro, for instance. Entering this book shop, you can really feel a taste of the Portuguese XIX century.
I've also noticed that they have a nice selection of translations of Portuguese authors in English, French, Italian and Spanish, that I haven't found in any of the more "comercial" book shops.
Livraria Lello is a very special place and, in a world where the old book shop is tends to give way to the big, modern and monotonous superstores, it is a priceless gem.
Why do we go to bookshops? To buy books, of course. But Lello bookshop attracts visitors not only with its rich bookselling offer. Already its beautiful neo-Gothic facade tells you that the place must be special. Indeed, the interior is unique: wooden spiral staircase, fantastic stainglass and carved bookshelves must delight everybody who comes in. And what's important, the owners have nothing against people entering the place just to look around and take pictures. They must be used to it by now.
Visiting this bookshop is to experience a trip into the past. The outside has a beautiful neo-gothic facade but as if that is not enough when you step inside you can see one of the most magnificent staircases ever. It is still a working bookshop. The staff are more than willing to help you with questions on the history of the place.
I guess most people come here only to see the store.We were wondering how much they exactly get sold here.Prices were quite high,but the store was worth of seeing.
Library which is worth the visit even if you don't buy any books. You can find a few books in English and in French though.