Livraria Lello, Porto
The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World
Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal has been recognized by Lonely Planet as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. It has also taken on mythical proportions for enthusiasts of the Harry Potter series. This store has been credited as the inspiration for Hogwarts magical moving staircases. And it is easy to see how this bookshop could inspire such imaginings, its incredible color and gothic inspiration are easily recognizable to those who have read the books.
Getting into Livraria Lello
There is an art gallery come ticket office on the corner, two doors up from Livraria Lello, where you purchase your ticket. Livraria Lello has become so popular that there is an entrance fee. The 5 Euro fee can be recouped in the purchase of a book and it is worth it!
It is better to get here early as there are hordes of people that pass through these art nouveau doors every day. Once you have your entry ticket, join the queue and enter the bookshop.
It is possible to buy your voucher online. I would recommend doing this or taking a tour that includes entry to Livraria Lello. This does not give you priority, however it might make it quicker to get to the front of the line, particularly if you have children.
Friends of ours always use Get Your Guide and I agree that including this stop on a tour of Porto really does make things a bit quicker. We stopped in here during lunch time and I wish that we had come much earlier to avoid the crowds and the heat.
You can book a Get Your Guide tour here. This tour will also include a walk past the Porto Cathedral, Clérigos Church, São Bento Railway Station.
With a little bit of luck you will beat the crowd and proceed into the bookstore quickly.
The history of Livraria Lello.
Livraria Lello first opened it’s doors in 1906. Designed by two brothers, José and António Lello, the building was brought to life by Francisco Xavier Esteves. His incredible design and use of colour created a bookstore that people come from all over the world to see.
It takes it’s design from ‘Art Nouveau’ and/or ‘Neo-Gothic’, combining the two to create a red, voluptuous staircase that wraps you up to the second floor, with its dramatic stained glass ceiling and beautiful friezes. The shelves which extend from the floor to the ceiling contain books in a multitude of languages including, Portugues, English and French. It is here that you are able to redeem your ticket for an ordinary book purchased in an extraordinary store.
As you enter Livraria Lello you are greeted by this staircase. It’s color is in direct contrast to the dark intricately carved wood that adorns every inch of this building.
Livraria Lello with Kids
This is a store that welcomes children of all ages. There are books specifically for them and as long as your children are fascinated by Harry Potter then it is an easy place to make intriguing and exciting for them. However, there are long queues and
The only drawback to Livraria Lello maybe its own popularity!
Beware of the huge amounts of traffic that this bookstore can attract! Livraria Lello is a tourist mecca. Partly due to the fact that JK Rowling credits the gorgeous red staircase as the inspiration behind the winding staircases in Hogwarts, and partly to the fact that there once was a coffee shop here where she was able to sit and write and drink coffee surrounded by the richness of this bookstore. Sadly, it is no longer possible to drink coffee within it’s doors, however there are plenty of cafes and restaurants (The Majestic) where you can!
Don’t miss this bookstore while you are in Porto. It truly is incredible.