One of the Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World
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Livraria Lello in Porto is considered by many to be the most beautiful bookshop in the world. The Lello Bookstore dates back to 1881 and is a feast for the eyes. The striking wooden staircase to the second floor and the stained glass windows are particularly beautiful. The bookshop is a mix of neo-gothic, art nouveau and art deco. You will find all you need to know for a visit to the bookshop in Portugal, with tips about the location, the best time to go and the entrance fee.
The official name is Livraria Lello & Irmão, but with the general public and many book lovers, it is Livraria Lello. You will find both Portuguese and English books in the many shelves. The choice is not extremely large, most visitors just love the impressive building. This bookshop has an interesting history. I got permission from the owners to visit the bookstore before opening time. It was magically beautiful, with only Fado guitar music playing in the background. It was perfect to make a video.
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Upon arrival, the building in the street is barely noticeable. Note the two women on the facade. They stand for Art and Science, something you see in the bookshop. The name Chardron on the glass is from the original owner. According to the story, he had once won the lottery and wanted to use the money to start a shop with unique books. But Chardron died at a young age.
The Lello brothers had a bookshop just around the corner at the time. They bought the already beautiful building and the complete collection of books. As a tribute, they left the name Chardron on the facade. The wooden doors upon entering (see video) are just the beginning. The interior is made of wood throughout. But, not in the upper parts. There's the plaster, which has been peeled to resemble wood. On some it is damaged and you can see the plaster. Also look to the left and right, you will see images of the Lello brothers.
The famous writer J.K. Rowling lived in Porto for several years as an English teacher. There are countless stories on the internet that this bookstore gave her the idea for the Harry Potter books. Which sounds quite logical when you walk around the store. But Rowling later debunked these stories herself. In fact, she says she was not aware of the bookshop's existence. And she has never visited, she says in several interviews.
This bookstore is extremely popular. You will often see a queue when you arrive. It is therefore wise to go on a weekday. It is best to go as early as possible, preferably before opening. Check online for the current opening times. The address of Livraria Lello is R. das Carmelitas 144 in Porto.
Admission to Livraria Lello is not free. You can buy an admission ticket online on their website. You can also buy a ticket on-site, but it is more expensive. And you probably have to wait longer. When you buy a book at the store, you get your entry fee back. This does not apply to notebooks and other small souvenirs and merchandise.
You can also buy a Skip the Line ticket online. With this ticket, you can skip the line at the entrance. This is useful if you have little time or don't like to wait. You will receive a book with your entrance ticket. You can see online which book it is.
More information: Buy your ticket online