So, I recently had the opportunity of visiting Porto with a group of close friends. Most of them know I’m very into books (that’s an understatement) and they pointed out if I knew about Livraria Lello. Surprisingly enough I didn’t, but thank god they brought that up, since you can imagine it was the ONLY thing I wanted to really visit around Porto.
Although at first, I wasn’t that interested about visiting Portugal per se, I’m so happy I did. We first visited Lisbon for two days but we really didn’t see that much since we spent one of those days visiting Da Pena Palace in Sintra. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful, although everyone told me so before I went on this trip. I mean those stone paved roads already decorated for Christmas were definitely a sight to behold.
However, we did spend a lot of time eating Pasteis de Nata which are basically Portuguese Custard Tarts and they’re absolutely delicious! You can get them anywhere in Portugal.
Then, we spent around 3 days in Porto and it definitely blew my mind!
First, we visited the famous Church of Saõ Francisco. It was originally built for the Franciscan Order during the 13th century, although the real deal came later in the 17th and 18th century with its lavish interior decorations. If you guys didn’t know, its interior is practically covered in gold, hence its nickname “The Church of Gold”. I mean, to write about it and to SEE it are two different things. I just can’t come up with the right words to describe the magnitude of its beauty…and I can’t also show pictures since the people in this church know their stuff, and they want to lure you guys to go to Porto and see it for yourselves! (they didn’t let us take pictures if you know what I mean…).
The next day we visited the Clerigos Tower and Clerigos Church. The church was also very beautiful and you can see most of the city from this particular spot. But more importantly we got to visit the beautiful Livraria Lello which is the main topic of this post!
Livraria Lello is basically a bookshop in the middle of Porto known for its unique architecture. This masterpiece was built in 1906 built by engineer Xavier Esteves, who was an avid lover of literature. This means that this unique infrastructure has been opened for more than a century and has been catalogued as one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world.
Now Harry Potter fans this is where things get really juicy…did you guys know J.K. Rowling lived in Porto for around two years? Well she did, and she was a frequent costumer at Livraria Lello. Some might say that this bookstore was one of the inspirations behind Hogwarts and once you enter the store, you can understand why.
As a matter of fact, when you go inside to buy your tickets, there’s a bunch of Harry Potter inspired souvenirs so I guess this must be more than just a rumor if you ask me. That woman (J.K. Rowling) probably slept there…I would if I could. That place must be Disney for authors… and readers!
Once you buy your ticket, you’re allowed to enter the real bookshop and you just feel overwhelmed by the number of tourists inside this not so big space. However, you just need to direct your eyes around the bookshelves and that’ll be forgotten.
They have a selection of books in multiple languages and you’re also able to get these tiny gift-wrapped packages that bring three surprise books inside (although that surprise will be shortly ruined when you go to the cashier to pay, she’ll be like do you know which books are here? And I was like isn’t supposed to be a surprise? and she’ll just ruin it like that in an instant) but don’t worry it’s still an amazing experience.
Now you know that if you’re ever in Porto you have to visit this place. I wouldn’t even call it a bookstore, a unique experience is more like it.