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Lello Bookstore, also known as Livraria Lello, is a bookshop, located in the northern municipality of Portugal, in the town called Porto, one of the oldest European centres, which is filled to the brim with culture. Lello bookstore is far from being referred to as an average bookshop.
In fact, according to numerous critical reviews, Lello Bookstore earned the title of the third most beautiful bookstore in the world! Residing on the street Rua das Carmelitas, it lures in up to 5,000 tourists daily and you best believe it can offer the wondrous sight to see. Having originally started as the Livraria Internacional de Ernesto Chadron on the street Rua dos Clérigos in 1869, it was later bought by the brothers José and António Lello in 1894. Under their guidance, it was moved to Rua dos Carmelitos, where a whole new bookshop was constructed.
In 1906, on January 13th, Livraria Lello was opened to the public and at one point became the literary hub, where such renowned figures were spotted as Guerra Junqueiro and Júlio Brandão. However, later there was a period when the bookshop suffered from financial difficulties: people used to attend it freely just for the sake of the architecture and bought hardly any books. So, since 2015 the entrance fee has been introduced, which did not stop the flow of customers.
As for the visual luxury of Lello bookstore, it opens up the whole another dimension. The design of the building's layout was put in hands of the architect Francisco Xavier Esteves, whereas the exterior was decorated by José Bielman. So, coming to this two-storied building, you are exposed to the impressive façade, made in Neo-Manueline, or Portuguese Neo-Gothic style. It depicts two figures, embodying Art and Science, who stand on both sides of three rectangular glass windows on the second floor. Right in the middle, the title "Lello & Irmão" is inscribed in an ornate gothic font. The interior beats already gorgeous outside view with its endless shelves filled with books, intricate details of architecture, whimsical geometric shapes and absolutely breathtaking ceiling with a stained glass window in the centre.
There are magical triangular lamps in the bookstore that add a lot to the general atmosphere. The most exciting part is a fantastic curvy staircase with scarlet stairs that spirals up to the second floor. From here, you can see the ceiling and the stained glass window more closely and observe the view of the first floor from above. For example, from here you might notice that there are books even on the top shelves behind glass doors. Also, Livraria Lello still has the rails and ladders used in early days to slide along the shelves, as well as a separate room for protection of its most treasured books.
Rumour has it, that Lello Bookstore was an inspiration for J.K. Rowling that conjured the image of Hogwarts school in her imagination, while others also notice the dramatic resemblance of Lello bookstore and a magic bookshop Flourish & Blotts in Harry Potter's universe. In conclusion, if you are fond of gothic style, majestic architecture and atmosphere, or you are a Harry Potter fan (or even maybe all of them!), then this is a place for you!
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