Livraria Lello – A Bookstore of Unmatched Beauty and Harry Potter
Livraria Lello, or Lello Bookstore, is a breathtaking gem tucked away in the vibrant city of Porto, Portugal. The store has earned its place as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, boasting a rich history and a magical connection to J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series. This article will explore the origins of Livraria Lello, its architectural splendor, and the relationship between the bookstore and the world of Harry Potter.
The Origins of Livraria Lello
Founded in 1906 by brothers José and António Lello, Livraria Lello was originally called Livraria Chardron. The Lello brothers were entrepreneurs with a passion for literature and the arts. Their vision was to create a space that would not only serve as a bookstore, but also as a cultural hub for Porto’s burgeoning intellectual community.
In 1894, the Lello brothers purchased Livraria Chardron from the Frenchman Ernesto Chardron. They renamed it Livraria Lello & Irmão and set about transforming it into a masterpiece of architecture and design. The brothers enlisted the help of engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves to create a space that would showcase their vast collection of books while also enchanting visitors with its magnificent design.
Livraria Lello’s architectural magnificence is immediately apparent upon first glance. The exterior features an imposing neo-Gothic façade, with intricate carvings and stained-glass windows that depict literary and artistic themes. This bold design sets the stage for the spectacular interior that awaits visitors.
Upon entering the bookstore, visitors are greeted by a grand, winding, crimson staircase that is both elegant and functional. The staircase, an engineering marvel for its time, is an essential element of the store’s layout and contributes to its overall enchantment. It is composed of reinforced concrete and plaster, giving the illusion of carved wood. The intricate details of the staircase are a testament to the craftsmanship and vision of the Lello brothers and Xavier Esteves.
The bookstore’s interior is adorned with wooden shelves that house thousands of books, reaching up to the ornate plaster ceiling. The shelves themselves are works of art, featuring intricate carvings and motifs inspired by the Art Nouveau movement. The ceiling, a breathtaking masterpiece, is adorned with motifs of organic shapes and neo-Gothic elements. A large, stained-glass skylight, emblazoned with the Lello brothers’ monogram, casts a warm, inviting light throughout the space.
Livraria Lello is not only an architectural marvel but also a place where literature and art are celebrated. Over the years, it has served as a gathering spot for Porto’s intellectual community, hosting book presentations, poetry readings, and art exhibitions.
The Harry Potter Connection
Livraria Lello’s enchanting atmosphere has captured the hearts of many, including famed author J.K. Rowling. Before she became the literary sensation behind the Harry Potter series, Rowling lived in Porto between 1991 and 1993, where she taught English as a foreign language. During her time in Porto, Rowling was a frequent visitor to Livraria Lello, where she would browse through the shelves and soak in the store’s magical ambiance.
While it has never been explicitly confirmed by Rowling, it is widely believed that the design of Livraria Lello served as inspiration for the creation of Flourish and Blotts, the magical bookstore in the Harry Potter series. The winding, crimson staircase and the towering shelves filled with books evoke images of the wizarding world, stirring the imagination and transporting visitors to a realm of fantasy and wonder. Furthermore, Rowling’s time in Porto is known to have influenced other aspects of the Harry Potter universe, such as the character Salazar Slytherin, whose name is derived from the Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.
In addition to Flourish and Blotts, fans of the series have drawn comparisons between Livraria Lello and the moving staircases of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The bookstore’s mesmerizing, sweeping staircase and the magical atmosphere of its interior undeniably resemble elements of the wizarding school.
The Harry Potter phenomenon has significantly increased the popularity of Livraria Lello, with fans from all over the world flocking to Porto to experience the bookstore’s enchanting ambiance firsthand. As a result, the bookstore now charges an admission fee, which is redeemable against any book purchase. This has helped the owners to preserve the store’s beauty and maintain its status as a cultural institution.
Livraria Lello’s Impact on Porto
Livraria Lello has not only made a significant impact on the world of literature and Harry Potter fans, but it has also played an important role in the cultural life of Porto. The bookstore has become a symbol of the city, showcasing its commitment to art, literature, and architectural splendor. Its fame has attracted tourists from around the world, contributing to Porto’s growing reputation as a cultural destination.
The owners of Livraria Lello have taken great care to preserve the bookstore’s unique character and heritage. They have invested in restoration projects to maintain the building’s architectural integrity and ensure that it continues to captivate visitors for generations to come.
Livraria Lello is undoubtedly a bookstore of unmatched beauty, with its stunning architecture, rich history, and magical connection to the Harry Potter series. Its enchanting atmosphere has captured the hearts of visitors from around the world, making it a must-see destination for book lovers and Harry Potter fans alike.
The Lello brothers’ vision of creating a space that celebrates literature and the arts has been realized in spectacular fashion, and Livraria Lello continues to be an inspiration for those who appreciate the transformative power of books. As both a literary and architectural masterpiece, Livraria Lello stands as a testament to the enduring allure of the written word and the magic it can bring to our lives.