I love books, I love books A LOT!, so much so that there is always a pile of them here at home ready to read or reread.
5 Historic Bookstores in Portugal? After all, where can we find books as far as the eye can see? There it is, in libraries and bookstores!
There is a charm in reading that has always seduced me, especially when it comes to classical literature, social sciences, comics and so on, and so on…
Libraries have books that we can bring home and are an excellent option to not spend a lot of money on these little objects loaded with their own world. But, what about taking more time to enjoy a read or, quite simply, reaching the end of the book and wanting to keep the universe of that book close to hand? Who never, right?
And here come the bookstores, full of opportunities, covers, textures, smells, papers, colours! It happens to me all too often that I don’t go into a bookstore so I don’t get lost and, in general, what attracts me to a bookstore are the products they sell. But there are bookstores that, in themselves, are a reason to visit! Those that are pieces of history or those that were born in palaces or secular buildings.
Closed at home since January, I dream of the day when I pick up my backpack and set foot on the way to a South Asian destination. Let’s be realistic: it’s not going to happen so quickly, FULL STOP. Options? Portugal, which I know so little about!
Therefore, I created a route entitled: Traveling in Portugal, in history, and in literature. Yes Yes! Maybe it needs a more interesting name, but the content is there, there are 5 historical bookstores in Portugal (4 bookstores and 1 library, actually).
- Leave the house! (I venture to say that we all need a little of this);
- Traveling through Portugal;
- Visit libraries and bookstores that are icons of national literature and culture;
- Acquire some new pearls for my mini-library.
Traveling in Portugal, in history, and literature: 5 historical bookstores in Portugal (in fact, there are 4 bookstores and 1 library!)
(Photo by Ivo Rainha)
We started in Oporto, at the centenary Livraria Lello, one of the best known in the world and it’s so spectacular that many people come in just to admire the space.
You can purchase your ticket here, it is a deductible voucher when purchasing a book. Children up to 3 years old do not pay, but it is necessary to present the respective voucher.
The building, with a neo-Gothic façade, was built by the engineer Xavier Esteves, in 1906, and inside, the highlight is the emblematic staircase and the majestic-style ceiling.
About 1-hour journey from Oporto to Braga, where the Centésima Página Bookstore is, located in Casa Roldão. This Baroque-style building dates back to the 18th century and has been classified since 1977 as a Building of Public Interest.
The bookstore also has a cafeteria. So, the idea is to buy a book and sit around reading while I sip tea or coffee (I can already see myself there, I feel like going right now!).
From Braga to Mafra it’s a big stretch. I’m in Leiria, right there between Lisbon and Oporto, maybe, enjoying the weekend in the north and on the following weekend heading to Mafra is not a bad idea!
Biblioteca do Palácio Nacional de Mafra
(Photo by Revista Visão)
I haven’t visited the emblematic Mafra National Palace since I was a kid, but I still remember its magnificence! Inside, you will find the “Monástico-Real Library of the National Palace of Mafra”, as grand as the entire monument.
There are 36,000 books. 36 thousand! Many are rare works and are centuries old, as some of these books date back to the 15th century. I wouldn’t think about coming here and messing with everything. The consultation is open only to researchers and, even so, only by appointment.
From Mafra to Lisbon is an instant.
Livraria Sá da Costa Editora
(Photo by blog Restos de Colecção)
In the Chiado area (if you take the metro in Lisbon, go to the Baixa-Chiado stop), next to Café A Brasileira – the most renowned and emblematic café in Lisbon! – and there you will find the no less emblematic Livraria Sá De Costa.
Here you can only see the façade, as Livraria Sá De Costa closed its doors definitively in 2013. Despite this, it remains a mandatory stopping point: here History happened for over 100 years.
To learn more about this bookstore, visit the delicious blog Restos de Colecção, by José Leite.
Livraria Bertrand do Chiado
(Photo by Bertrand Livreiros)
No more than a minute away, is the last destination of this route: the Livraria Bertrand do Chiado.
Guinness World Records named it in 2011 as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. Visiting the space is in itself a unique experience.
And that’s it, these are my proposals, 5 Historical Bookstores in Portugal (4 bookstores and 1 library).
I’m looking forward to going and maybe finding other wonders along the way!
And let’s accept that the phrase “COVID-19 is here to stay” has become a commonplace, as it is most likely, and that, therefore, it is better to learn to live with the facts and move on (one rubs itself in disinfectant alcohol, puts on a mask and moves on with a smile !).
It’s not just 5 Historic Bookstores in Portugal
Portugal has many libraries and bookstores – there could be more and, after the pandemic, there will certainly be even less – and I would add that they are all worth a visit and the purchase of at least one book.
Apart from this route that I present to you, I challenge you to go to the nearest bookstore and buy a book, no matter if it is expensive or cheap, as long as it is something that fills your heart! With this small gesture, you can be helping to save these very precious spaces and enrich your life.
Ah, this was a personal choice, there are no rankings here and, in my opinion, none is better than the other. Besides, there are many others that would fit here, but let’s say that this would be the route for a weekend (or two: one in the North and another in the Lisbon area, if you wanted to take the opportunity to do other things besides wandering from bookstore to bookstore).
And you? What do you think of this route Traveling in Portugal, in history, and literature? (Hmmppfff, the name could be better, it could!)
For other tours, take a look HERE!