Several years ago, while visiting the northern Portuguese city of Porto, we discovered “the world’s most beautiful bookshop,” - the Livraria Lello. Ever since it's inauguration in 1906, it has not only attracted book lovers, but also architectural design fans. With its intricate neo-gothic and art nouveau design, wood panels, stained glass ceiling, and the curving, twisting red staircase, it is simply a breathtaking space.
Rumor has it that J.K. Rowling’s inspiration to write Harry Potter was begun in Porto...and particularly at this bookstore. Rowling lived in Porto for 10 years working as an English teacher in the early 1990s and frequented the bookstore often. It's no wonder there are great similarities between Lello’s bookstore staircase and the one described in Hogwarts.
When you climb the iconic red staircase, you see all the incredible curves and angles of the architecture. Most impressive is the bridge, which sits in the center of the bookstore. The bridge was designed to curve and dip in the middle, which is bit disorienting, but is completely safe for people to walk on. There is a huge stained glass window on the ceiling with the words ‘decus in labore’. This was the Lello brother’s motto, meaning ‘honor in work’. You’ll also see what appears to be carved wood across the ceiling however, it's actually a clever technique of painting plaster to make it look like wood.
Please visit their website for more information on this amazing place.