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You know when every guide written about Porto talks about a bookstore that it has to be something special, and Livraria Lello certainly is. I love books and can browse through bookstores and libraries for hours, but on walking into Lello, they certainly weren’t what caught my eye. Instead, I stared at the intricate woodwork all around me, the unique design of the stairway, and the stained glass far above. Yes, there was stained glass in a bookstore! It’s no wonder that JK Rowling used to find refuge here as she wrote away the hours with a coffee in the back corner.
Unfortunately, the bookstore is no longer a refuge for people that want to write or even browse their books in peace. A constant stream of visitors — myself included — wander through the bookstore gawking at its beauty before moving on. I can see how this would be very frustrating to the owners, who are getting the visitors without the sales (even though there were quite a few English & French books as well as a wide selection of Portuguese ones). However, we found that the staff didn’t really help the situation. Every time someone so much as touched a camera, they yelled “NO PHOTOS!” at everyone in the general Porto region that could possibly have heard. As you can tell from this post, I still took a few, but I think they would have been much better off charging €1 at the door and then letting people take as many photos as they wanted. It certainly would have made the place a bit quieter.
That said, I don’t think the photos do justice to the real thing. This place was one of the more stunning examples of architecture that I’ve seen. I’m sure that if I went back to Porto, I would go back for another (longer) visit.
Here are a few other sneaky photos that they didn’t catch me taking: