The Livraria Lello of Porto, opened in 1906, is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and hides an Neo-Gothic interior behind a Art-Nouveau façade. The first impression that you have when you first enter here, is that you’ve entered a church, and not in a bookstore, and remains one of the world’s most stunning shops, probably of any kind. The beautiful Neo-Gothic interior have a stained glass ceiling, carved wood paneling, and a great curvaceous staircase that stretches across the store.
Was designed by Xavier Esteves and over the windows there are figures painted by José Bielman, representing “Science” and “Art” with a stained glass window bearing a monogram of “Lello and Brother” with their motto Decus in Labore (“Honor in Work”). Inside, around of the books in wrap-around, neo-Gothic shelves, featuring panels carved with Portuguese literary figures, there are a track, used by the staff for transporting the books in a cart, that leads from the entrance to the lolloping red staircase, which winds up to the first floor. Books are available in English and Portuguese, and there’s a small cafe upstairs beneath the stained-glass skylight.
It is consistently named one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and if you want enter…..there is a ticket office to buy your ticket at the corner to the left of the Livraria. Be prepared for crowds of Potter-heads, in fact the bookstore was frequented by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, when she taught English in Porto and seems to be an inspiration for her writing. We are not Potter-Head…and we did not in depth the subject 🙂