In these days of digital media the world is losing more and more brick & mortar shops, which is a shame.  Take ebooks for example.  Sure they’re infinitely more convenient and less space consuming.  But half the fun of reading is going to the book store to find hidden gems and what could be your next favorite. No matter what book store you go to you can’t help but get filled with a sense of elegance and tranquility.

With that in mind, photographer Koach, before capturing the second most beautiful bookstore in Argentina, started his journey in Portugal at the oppositely designed but equally beautiful, Livraria Lello & Irmão (Lello for short).

This store was originally established in 1869 but moved to its current location on Carmelitas street in 1906 and has remained there since.  In 2008 the Guardian Newspaper ranked it as “the 3rd most beautiful bookstore in the world.” It achieved the same rank in a list published by Lonely Planet in later years.

The book stores exterior is extremely unassuming, especially surrounded by the other beautiful pieces of architecture Porto, Portugal has to offer.  However, once you step inside you’ll feel you’ve been transported to another place and time.

You also will probably get a distinct Harry Potter vibe from this place, and you’d be right since author J.K. Rolwing had lived in Porto prior to writing the series. It’s hard to imagine she didn’t get inspiration from Lello. It’s also said that some scenes from the movie were filmed here.

In contrast to Argentina’s theatrically spacious El Ateneo, Lello has a charmingly cluttered appearance, almost like a wizard’s chamber.  This combined the old-world decorations and Escher-like staircase it’s all too easy to lose oneself in the thick atmosphere of this shop.

One thing’s for sure, ebooks, as useful as they are, will never spawn something as gorgeous and magical as Livraria Lello & Irmão.

Note: The photos taken here were shot with special permission from the store. Normally all photography is forbidden from inside the store.  So if you do visit you will only be able to take mental pictures.

Original Story & Photos: Koach

▼ The first floor as seen from the second

▼ The Porto books section

▼ One of the more charming features of this shop are the rails snaking along the floor.

▼ They’re used for this cart to move books around the shop.

▼ Written inside a large “L” the Latin phrase “Decus in labore” is written which means something like “honor in work”

▼ The shop’s exterior

[ Read in Japanese ]