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Livraria Lello – A Bookstore Beyond Beautiful in Porto

Just a five-minute walk from Porto’s city center is one of the most magnificent book shops one can imagine. In fact, it is constantly listed in the top bookstrores in the world. In 2010, Lonely Planet named Livraria Lello the “Third Best Boosktore in the World!”

The building first opened in 1906 and is designed by architect Xavier Esteves. The façade is a beautiful example of neo-gothic design, with just a hint of art nouveau.

Step inside, and you have a wonderland of stunning design, intricate decoration and volumes of books. From floor to ceiling ornate painted plaster provides a rich texture. Pillars are decorated with bronze bas-reliefs of Portuguese literature figures. Glass enclosed bookcases arch at the top. Tracks on the floor warn you to watch out for sliding ladders and carts used by the staff.

Of course the centerpiece of this amazing shop is the beautifully curvaceous art nouveau staircase. The bright red steps invite you to ascend to the upper level. Here, many more books are available, and the interior design continues. A spectacular stained-glass skylight is fitted into the ceiling. The store’s motto of “vecus in labore” is written among the glass design.

While you are upstairs, stop by the small coffee shop. Enjoy a selection of coffees, port wine and cigars. Great place to escape from the world, or quietly read your new book.

The books offered are largely Portuguese fiction and non-fiction. Yet, a nice selection of English and French books are also available.

Text: in

Photos: Celso Gonçalves Roc2c

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