The cathedral-like Livraria Lello, at 144 Rua das Carmelitas in the Portuguese city of Porto, is so atmospheric tourists reverently lower their voices. Manager Antero Braga explains: ”The bookshop was opened in 1906 and designed to echo the monastic library tradition which preserved Portuguese culture during the Moorish invasion.”
Carved trefoils adorn bookshelves, gargoyles peer down from corbels and a curvaceous red staircase – more Hogwarts than gothic – whirls upwards to a gallery level where the shrine of all bookshop cafe extremists, Cafe Lello, is under a massive stained glass window. Sitting with book, coffee, a glass of Portuguese port and views across cobbled Rua Carmelitas, I decide there’s nowhere I’d rather be.
Bedside reading Portugal’s national epic, The Lusiads by Camoes.
Brian Turner for The Sydney Morning Herald