Livraria Lello

Porto, Portugal

The Lello Bookstore (Livraria Lello) is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and frequently rated among the top bookstores in the world. It originally dates from 1869, but Lello brothers built a new bookstore on the current location in 1906. It was designed by engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves.

The building's exterior has a mixed architectural suggesting Neo-Gothic, and Art Nouveau elements, and in the interior, implied Art Deco elements.

On the first floor, it includes bated arch, divided into three vains, with the central arch providing entrance into the building and decorative lateral windows, each surmounted by flag adapted to the archway. Above this arch are three elongated rectangular windows flanked by two painted figures representing 'Art' and 'Science' (work of Professor Jose Bielman).

Finishing the facade are squared plaits surmounted by three decorated pinnacles, with two pilasters on either side, topped by pinnacles of equal design. Decorative elements complete the facade with alternating geometric shapes that circuit and the firm's name LELLO & BROTHER over the bow, all painted in vivid colours that highlight the white paint on the facade.

The ample interior space is marked by a forked staircase connecting to a gallery on the first floor with detailed wood balusters. Over this staircase is a large 8 by 3.5 metres stained glass window, with the central motto Decus in Labore and monogram of the owners. The ceiling and interiors are treated exhaustively with painted plaster, designed to resemble sculpted wood surfaces and decorative elements. The building still retains the rails and wooden cart once used to move books around the store between the shelves.

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    Details

    Founded: 1906
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    Rating

    4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

    User Reviews

    Stella Mandagi (19 months ago)
    This bookstore is absolutely gorgeous. Must visit if you get a chance, the admission fee is about €5, purchased at a separate location just up the street. The 5€ is refunded with the purchase of a book. And they do have a great selection of books, both in Portuguese and English. Highly recommended. But beware of the line-up!
    Natália Beeler (19 months ago)
    Super beautiful bookstore. The 4 stars is because it was so full (I assume it's always like that) If you don't plan on using the $5 euros you spend on the entrance ticket to buy a book I'm not sure if it's so worth going there since you can barely admire or take pictures because of the amount of people inside.
    Meg D (20 months ago)
    Historical bookstore in Porto that is absolutely gorgeous. Due to its affiliation with Harry Potter, it is packed with people. Ideally they would limit the number of people allowed entrance at any given time, but they don’t. The bookstore requires a ticket, purchased at a separate location just up the street for 5€ per person. The 5€ is refunded with the purchase of a book. The line outside moves quickly and a friendly staff member is happy to answer questions.
    Charles Cooper (20 months ago)
    In reviewing Livraria Lello I must make a distinction between the store itself and the experience of visiting. Because the store is charming, with a warm and pleasant aesthetic that was clearly captured by Rowling in her storytelling. But it's difficult to enjoy because of the throngs of selfie-taking tourists who descend on this place like a flash mob and make it nearly impossible to enjoy as one might any other book store; to browse the book selection, to sit and take in the space, and enjoy being there. From the moment you walk in the door everyone has their camera out and are clogging the aisles, fighting for space on the stairs, and lining up on the bridge to snap the same picture everyone else is taking. In fact, this place isn't really even a bookstore. It's a tourist attraction that sells books. I bet they make more on the 4€ pp admission than they do on selling anything else. As a store, I give it 4-5 stars. But as an attraction, it's too small and cumbersome to enjoy. And the fact that they charge admission but do little to limit the number of patrons allowed at one time makes it hard to recommend. Go if you must. Some people seem to like it, but I was definitely not one of them. It's worth noting as well that you can avoid the lines and buy tickets online for an appointed viewing time. Also, afternoons tend to be less busy than the morning visit times.
    Clarisse KWAN (20 months ago)
    I went to this bookstore last year on my holiday. It was a breathtaking experience, and I ranked it my favourite bookstore in the world. There are many different varieties of books to select from, and the books are in both Portuguese and English, so that more people would be able to read and buy the books. I really liked the Harry Potter theme; Harry Potter is my favourite book series. Overall, in my opinion, this bookstore is by far the best bookstore in the world!
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