Where? Porto, Portugal
Recommended by Sean Dodson
The courtesy of the Guardian Unlimited
Livraria Lello is definitely a must-see in Porto. Located near Praça dos Leões, it is an old Bookshop, with an amazing interior - stained glass, carved wood, an amazing stairway, pressed copper, glass-enclosed bookshelves arched at the top, and Art Deco facade and interior on two levels. The bookstore is a five minute walk away from downtown Porto, not far from “Soares dos Reis”, a Museum of Art, and the Photography Museum.
Opened in 1906, Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful bookstores in Porto and the world. It is the flagship store for one of the most important Portuguese publishing houses. Co-owner Antero Braga is usually around, knows the Portuguese book market in and out, and will be glad to help you find exactly what you want even when you don’t have a clue about what that may be.
Designed by Xavier Esteves, the bookstore's architecture and interior design are stunning. The facade is an excellent neo-gothic design. Once inside, there is the curvaceous red stairway connecting the two levels (inspired on the Parisian Galleries Lafayette), the heavily decorated walls and ceilings, and the magnificent stained-glass skylight with Lello’s motto vecus in labore will no doubt impress you. The pillars are ornamented with bronze bas-reliefs of Portuguese literature figures and there is a small track on the floor along which employees move carts filled with books. All in all, Lello is one of the best works of the so-called “second eclecticism” style in Portugal, with beautiful art nouveau naturalist elements. One of the best-kept secrets in Porto is the four-table coffeeshop on the second floor of the Livraria Lello– there’s coffee, port, and cigars. It’s the perfect place to stop for a moment before returning to the bustling downtown life outside; or to spend a long time browsing a few books.
Besides the wide array of Portuguese fiction and non-fiction titles, Lello sells many English and French books, including translations of Portuguese literature and poetry works. If you’re looking for books on Porto, Lello has the widest choice.Livraria Lello
Rua das Carmelitas 144
(+351) 22 200 2037