In many ways, I’m a walking cliche of an ex-literature student. For example, bookstores fascinate me. If the opportunity presented itself, all lit. nerds would reside in an adorable and independent bookshop, especially if they didn’t get busted for illegal loitering, and I am no exception to the rule.
As I’ve mentioned in my overview of Porto, I didn’t research the city very much. Therefore I had no idea about the bookish treats that awaited me in this gritty medieval city. Hell, even a huge Potter fan like me, was oblivious to the fact that JK Rowling once called Porto “home.”
Here are two literary sites that impacted my weekend trip to Porto:
“We need to find this bookstore.”
My German companions repeated this statement again and again. I was baffled. What bookstore? What was so amazing about it? Was it the playground of rebellious Portuguese poets? Did they give you a free coffee with your purchase? Was there a rare collection of first editions on display? What was it?
After trekking another hill, my out of shape thighs sobbing for a break, one of the group let out a triumphant cry and gestured me to follow her. I stepped into every literature student’s dream.
Welcome to Livraria Lello.
The neo-Gothic architecture reminded me of churches and palaces, not bookstores. Selling books since 1881, Livraria Lello is a historical attraction in and of itself, and the pillars are decorated with images of Portugal’s greatest writers.
This place was so astounding that it came as no surprise that it may have inspired JK Rowling herself! I mean, c’mon, this bookstore is so the Hogwarts library.
Livraria Lello was definitely the best surprise that Porto gave me.
Are you a Happy Potter fan like me? Then you MUST check out Cafe Majestic in addition to Livraria Lello.
In 1993, Rowling moved to Porto to teach. She frequented Cafe Majestic, a place where “art nouveau” seeps from its wall’s crevices, and wrote a bit there. After our long day, my newfound friends and I sat down to delicious lemonade and pastries. I briefly pretended that JK Rowling, sipping coffee and jotting in a notebook, sat at the table next to us. Obviously, Cafe Majestic was not the cheapest place in Porto (most expensive lemonade ever), but it was so worth the price.