The Livraria Lello is one of the most beautiful book shops in the world and tops the list of attractions in Porto. Livraria Lello has ranked in the top 10 book stores of the world constantly but reached its pinnacle in 2010 when the Lonely Planet crowned it as the Third best bookstore in the World.
The Livraria Lello is located in the heart of Porto and a 10 minutes’ walk from the famous Sao Bento Railway station known for its Azulejo panels.
The entire building itself is quite beautiful with the colourful facade a perfect example of neo-gothic design. It first opened its doors in 1906 and has been a showcase for Portoguese literature. It was designed by Xavier Esteves an engineer who had a taste for literature. The most impressive part of the bookstore is it’s circular crimson wooden staircase. The staircase forms the centrepiece of the store with its bright red stairs that take you up to the upper level.
The building has several intricately crafted stained glass windows that absolutely stand out when the sun rays pass through it. The interiors consists of ornate painted plaster with figures from Portuguese literature. It was the city’s first architectural structure to be built out of reinforced concrete. There is a spectacular stained glass fitted to the ceiling which shines light down on the store and is absolutely stunning.
Once you enter the store it is like stepping into a wonderland of books. Rows of glass fronted cabinets filled with books from different languages but predominantly Portuguese. There is a fair amount of books in English and French as well.
Thanks to Instagram and social media the book store has become one of the most photographed places in Porto. You will certainly experience this if you were to enter the store with hordes of tourists getting their perfect pose.
There is another interesting aspect of this bookstore. Is that it is believed that the famous author JK Rowling, wrote the first Harry Potter book inside this store. · J.K Rowling was indeed a frequent customer to the bookstore when she lived in Porto from 1991 to 1993. The bookstore’s neo-Gothic architecture does bear a striking resemblance to Hogwarts School of Wizardry and the Flourish and Blotts bookshop. There is a section dedicated to the Harry Potter on the first floor and a glass cabinet enclosing some memorabilia’s and an autographed book by the author.
There is a small coffee shop and store just around where you can enjoy a selection of cakes coffees and souvenirs. This is where you can also purchase your tickets to enter the book store. You need to purchase a ticket to get into the store. As you can imagine becoming a top tourist attraction the shop attracted thousands of guests everyday but very little purchases. As a result there was a ticket system introduced.
You could buy the tickets online which I would suggest as you still have to queue up after you have the tickets to enter the store. Alternatively you could turn up and first queue up to buy the tickets and then return to queue up to enter the store. You can exchange your ticket towards any purchases you make at the store. The bookstore sees 4,000 to 5,000 visitors a day and can get very busy but still worth a visit.
It certainly carries on to cultivate a relationship with books in this modern world of digital media. I must admit that the Livararia Lello is without a doubt one of the most beautiful book stores in the world and a visit to it whilst you are in Porto is a must.
For more information, visit the Livraria Lello website.
Rua das Carmelitas 144
Phone: +351 222 002 037
Monday through Friday – 10:00 to 19:30
Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 to 19:00
Ticket Entrance: €5.00 which can be used towards your purchase in the store.