No wonder that J.K. Rowling is said to have been inspired for her Harry Potter books by this bookstore. The Livraria Lello in Porto definitely has a magical beauty. Even if you are not a book fan you will be impressed by the pompous interior. In general, Porto is an inspiring city: with the charm of the old days, when Portugal was still the great and rich nation of seafarers, but always a little overshadowed by the great Lisbon, Porto has secretly established itself as the new trendy destination in Europe. While J.K.Rowling was most probably able to browse through the shelves of the ancient Livraria Lello alone during her time in Porto, it is now so crowded that you even have to buy an admission ticket before visiting. That’s right – now you have to pay an entrance fee for the Livraria Lello, otherwise the masses of visitors wouldn’t be able to get their way in the small bookstore. But that’s not enough: on many days there is even a long line in front of the bookshop!
Livraria Lello: One of the fav Instagram hotspots in Porto
I would have loved to have a quiet look at the Livraria Lello, because the small but fine selection across all genres is exactly what I like. But somehow I didn’t feel like browsing, when you are being pushed around everywhere because everyone wants to get the best Instagram photo. Especially places on the beautiful red spiral staircase that winds up from the ground floor to the first floor are highly sought after.
Livraria Lello’s little secret: You wouldn’t believe it!
The whole bookstore is completely paneled from top to bottom with artfully carved wood. Apparently. But the Livraria Lello also holds a small, not so well-known secret: many woodcarvings, such as the impressive ceiling with its many ornaments, are not made of wood at all, but of cheap painted plaster, a technique that was also used in the Palácio da Bolsa in Porto.
Information & Entrance Fee Livraria Lello Porto
The entrance to Livraria Lello currently costs 5€, to be paid next door in the separate ticket shop, where you can also buy a lot of Harry Potter merchandise. Totally unnecessary in my opinion, because the Livraria Lello is beautiful to look at even without all the Harry Potter hype. The entrance fee can be deducted off a purchase, but chances to find something for exactly 5 € are low. Those who don’t find anything will get a small brochure about the history of the bookstore of the Lello brothers for their 5€ at the exit.
The fact that I am a book nerd shouldn’t be a secret by now – and in foreign cities I usually go to bookstores, simply because I love books so much. On real paper! I haven’t been able to acquaint myself with eBook readers and PDFs to this day. There’s nothing about the feel of books on paper, don’t you think?
Maybe I should set up a section on the most beautiful bookshops in the world on the blog? What are your favourite bookshops? Or the most extraordinary ones you’ve visited? Another extraordinary bookstore I visited in the past months is this one, by the way: Acqua Alta in Venice
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