Porto, Portugal. July 2018
The ‘tour brochure’ (leaflet) given to me with my entrance ticket tells me that the Livraria Lello, is the most beautiful bookshop in the world. As I haven’t visited every bookshop in the world I can’t really comment on this, other than to say it is a beautiful shop.
It is a bit of a faff actually getting into the bookshop. One has to buy a ticket, €5, from a store just along the street from the shop and then go to the bookshop. In the morning the queues are very long, wait until later in the afternoon and they have gone and one can just walk in, once the person on the door has seen the ticket. However the shop is still full of people, mostly taking selfies, so getting decent photos without humans in was quite difficult. The reason thousands of visitors from around the world visit this bookstore is the author J. K. Rowling was allegedly inspired by the interior when writing Harry Potter. I haven’t read Harry Potter, so again I can’t make any comment.
The Neo Gothic building was designed by Francisco Xavier Esteves and opened in 1906. The ceiling design on the lower floor, looks like carved wood, it’s actually painted plaster. The twisted stair case leads up to the first floor with Art Deco details on walls and columns. A stained glass skylight has the Latin ‘Decus in Labore’, (Dignity in Work), which was the company’s golden rule. I liked the little busts of humans heads on the books.
Ribeira is one of Porto’s oldest districts and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique is named after the statue of the man himself, also known as Prince Henry the Navigator, who was born in Porto.
The narrow streets and winding alleys slope down to the Cais de Ribeira, a riverfront promenade, with restaurants, cafes, bars and of course boats. The bright coloured buildings are also homes and washing, flapping in the breeze, looks like giant bunting.
There are stairs to get back up to the top of the hill, if these are too much there is a funicular which takes one up in seconds.