I have always loved writing, and now that I am retired I thought I would be able to find time to write, but it seems that I still manage to fill my days with activities. I have however found that while I travel, I enjoy writing about some of the interesting things we do. I hope you enjoy reading of our adventures as much as I like writing about them.
Monday, August 5, 2019
The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World
And First . . . More Stairs
I like book stores, and its nice to
drop into interesting book shops in any place I visit. That little
cafe inside the Art District fort in Cascais had a lovely book shop
above it. One of the popular attractions here in Porto is a unique
book store, but you cannot just drop into the “Most Beautiful
Bookshop in the World”; you must first buy an admission ticket down
the street at their gift shop/voucher counter. You have to line up to
buy a ticket and then line up again to get admission to the shop. If
you just go to the door of the actual bookshop you will be turned
away. Now that sounds a bit much, but it is all true.
The Livraria Lello is a bookshop in
Porto, Portugal. It was originally opened as a publishing house in
1881, and was known as a quality book binder, publishing works by
Portuguese authors. The entire business was purchased by Jose Lello
in 1894, renovated, and opened as a book store in 1906. Recently it
was named by many travel books and
newspapers as one of the most
beautiful bookshops in the world and at least one publication named
it as THE number one bookshop in the world. This sort of positive
press would have generated interest in the spot, and brought
additional tourist visitors, but it was J. K. Rowling who really
pushed it into the stratosphere of book stores. In 1999 when she was
writing the first Harry Potter book, she was living and working
(teaching English) in Porto and frequented the book store. Apparently
she loved the place and took inspiration for the library at Hogworts
from the bookshop and its unique and spectacular crimson staircase.
Once the Harry Potter books became a smash hit, the bookshop became a
must-see destination in Porto. So now you have to buy a admission
ticket just to visit.
The Famous Staircase
The shop really is an amazing book
store. The architecture of the building itself is beautiful, but gets
better once you enter. It looks and feels more like a vintage library
than a book store with shelves of books stretching to the high
ceilings. The shop has two levels and a spectacular curving stairway
painted bright red connects the two levels in the middle of the shop.
Overhead is a huge stained glass skylight providing a gentle
illumination to the entire shop. I have been in many book stores and
this really is one of the most beautiful I've seen.
However, it was hard to actually enjoy
it. It was packed with people and the stairway was constantly crowded
with people trying to get the perfect picture. It was hard even to
browse the selection of books because of the crowds. I was surprised
at the number of books in English, but I
suppose the tourist trade
demands this. People were buying books and there was a constant line
up to pay for your purchases. You do get the price of admission off
your bill if you buy a book so that does encourage people to make a
purchase. And if you do not buy anything, you can exchange your
admission ticket for a little book about the bookshop as you leave.
And I could not even find a book I
wanted to buy . . .