The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World!
You’ll hear many people describe the Lello Bookshop as the “most beautiful bookshop in the world” and when you step through its front door you’ll be bowled over by the stunning architecture and rich interior decoration. It’s no wonder that this bookshop has become such a popular sightseeing attraction for overseas visitors and locals alike.
Lello Bookshop‘s amazing interior includes heavily decorated walls and ceilings with intricate wood carvings and its amazing red curving stairway that takes you to the second level. An impressive stained glass skylight bears Lello’s monogram and motto “Decus in Labore” or Dedication is in the Labor, and this bookshop is certainly a labour of love and dedication by the many people involved.
Walk in and you’re immediately greeted by tables of books and bookshelves that reach all the way to the ceiling. According to the vision of José Manuel Lello, “a bookshop today should be one that really meets people and not just stands there waiting” and this dream has certainly been achieved.
On the second floor of the Livraria Lello, there is a four-table coffeeshop where you can stop for a cup of coffee and enjoy the ambience of this stunning bookshop. Having said that, I personally think that the bookshop is too beautiful to allow any other aromas to interfere with the smell of books.
Lello’s history goes all the way back to 1894 when Jose Pinto de Sousa Lello took over the Chardron Bookshop, a prominent book editing and publishing business. Lello was operating out of a bookshop at 18-20 Almada Street at that time. Further acquisitions and expansions led to the building of the current Livraria Lello building in Carmelitas Street. The building was designed by Xavier Esteves, specifically for the purpose of a bookshop. The facade is an excellent neo-gothic design and the building has been classified as a National Monument. Livraria Lello opened its doors in January 1906 and became the flagship store for one of the most important Portuguese publishing houses.
The bookshop has been owned and managed by generations of the Lello family, from fathers to brothers, sons and son-in-law.
Range of Books Available
Besides the wide array of Portuguese fiction and non-fiction titles, Lello sells many English and French books, including translations of Portuguese literature and poetry. If you’re interested in books on Porto, Lello has the widest choice. Co-owner Antero Braga, who knows the Portuguese book market inside out, is usually around and will be glad to guide you through your search and help you find what you’re after.
We congratulate Mr. Braga and tell him that his is the most beautiful bookshop we’ve ever seen. He must have heard these praises thousands of times over but yet his face still brims with pride to be told again.
So on your Porto shopping trip, visit Lello Bookshop and go with the aim to buy a book from this historical bookshop. If you don’t wish to carry anything heavy home, there’s a little booklet you can buy that tells you the interesting history of how Lello Bookshop grew to its eminent position today. This also makes a good souvenir of your Porto holidays.
The bookstore is a five minute walk away from downtown Porto at Rua das Carmelitas 144.