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Lello & Irmão bookshop


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The Harry Potter Bookshop

Translated by Emily Bevan — 5 months ago

Original text by Chiara M.

Right in the heart of Porto is one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal: the Lello & Irmão bookshop. Not far from the Largo do Carmo square, along a tree-lined street leading to the Clérigos Church, Lello & Irmão is found in an elegant building, dating from the early 20th century. Today it is one of the most visited bookshops in the world, attracting hundreds of tourists every day. The bookshop became particularly famous when J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, claimed to have taken inspiration from the bookshop for various locations described in her own books. Despite being such a major tourist attraction, Lello & Irmão remains first and foremost a bookshop where you can surely find something to tickle your fancy, no matter the genre.

The entrance fee is €5 - which includes a €5 discount on any book. This is an intelligent tactic, keeping the identity of the bookshop firmly based on selling books instead of becoming purely a tourist attraction. You can buy your ticket at the Armazens do Castelo, a small shop a few metres from the bookshop entrance. Once you have your ticket, you will have to join the long entrance queue. When I visited with my brother we had to wait around half an hour to get in.

The inside of the bookshop is made completely of wood, carved in neo-gothic style.

La libreria di Harry Potter

Everywhere you look you will find shelves stuffed full of books; it is a sanctuary for stories, each meticulously catalogued by author. Small busts of the world's most famous authors and poets hang from the shelves.

La libreria di Harry Potter

As you can see in the following photo, on the highest shelves tucked safely behind glass doors are the rare editions of the most famous works of Portuguese authors. This collection is the pride and joy of the bookshop and one of the most rich and precious in all of Portugal.

La libreria di Harry Potter

Thanks to the fame brought to it by the Harry Potter series, the bookshop has become even more famous, attracting hundreds of Harry Potter fans. As such there is now a room dedicated entirely to the world-famous wizard where, along with any number of gadgets and souvenirs, you can find the various translations of the books - in Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, French, English... In the following photo you can see a cabinet full of the most recent editions as well as some old books on legend and lore.

La libreria di Harry Potter

You can't miss the majestic staircase in the centre of the room leading up to the floor above. Notice the sinuous lines, made entirely of wood, beautifully carved and decorated with floral motifs.

La libreria di Harry Potter

The upper part of the staircase forms a small bridge, where almost everyone stops to take a selfie.

La libreria di Harry Potter

Don't miss the stained glass ceiling on the top floor showing the bookshop's coat of arms.

La libreria di Harry Potter

You can stay in the bookshop as long as you want, and take as many photos as you please. But I really do suggest you think about using your discount to buy a book. I bought myself a Portuguese copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Buying a book from Lello & Irmão supports their business, and helps them to remain an independent bookshop and not just a tourist destination.

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