The Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World: Top 5

Though we are undeniably living in a digital world where buying a book means downloading it from the Internet, more and more people seek the good old-fashioned way of purchasing. There is always so much unexplainable excitement about entering a bookstore. It’s like a sanctuary away from the turmoil of the world. Entering from the noisy and crowded streets, the tranquillity of a bookstore instantly soothes you. It is so magical that the smell of brand new crisp books fills the air and the colourful covers invade the shelves. We all know that it cannot be compared to anything.

We have collected 5 incredibly beautiful bookstores around the world that are true refuges for book lovers. Keep reading, if you want to get to know which bookstore is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s descriptions of Hogwarts in the famous Harry Potter series!

1. Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello has become incredibly popular among tourists due to its elaborate architecture and woodwork. Not only is it impressive from the inside, but the building is also breathtaking from the outside. It has a Gothic style facade with lots of decorative elements and pinnacles. Before entering, have a look at the two painted figures who represent Art and Science.

Inside the bookstore you will be amazed by the majestic curving staircase which winds up to the first floor. The large stained-glass windows are also something to see! It is pure joy browsing in this bookstore and admiring the enchanting wooden carvings and stained-glass windows at the same time. According to the myth, this bookstore inspired J.K. Rowling’s depictions of Hogwarts. So it’s a little bit like stepping into the world of Harry Potter.

Be aware of the fact that due to the huge popularity of this bookstore it can get really crowded. We would recommend going on Sunday evening if possible. There is also an entry fee of 5 euros but if you purchase a book, you get the 5 euros deducted from the price. (Also make sure to book your ticket online!)

It is a true masterpiece, having an extraordinary historical and architectural value. You must see it if you happen to be in Porto!

2. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ateneo Grand Splendid opened its doors in 1919 as a live performance theatre. Then it was converted into a cinema and right before the building was about to be demolished, the El Ateneo publishing house bought it.

Now it is a completely restored theatre turned into a bookstore and it is truly splendid. The building could still preserve the atmosphere of the grand theatre. There is so much beauty everywhere you look and you can even have a cup of coffee on the stage, behind the red curtains.

Enjoy the amazing architecture and browse among a vast collection of books.

3. The Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World: Shakespeare & Company, Paris, France

Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookshop opened by George Whitman in 1951. Interestingly enough the building originally served as a monastery.

It quickly became a focal point of literary culture since it was a gathering place for such amazing writers as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway or James Joyce. The bookstore has beds tucked among the shelves for writers, artists, and intellectuals who were invited to sleep there. The old architecture of the building is truly stunning. Raw wooden beams, winding staircase, photos of great writers and quotes painted on the walls add to the charm of this small quirky bookstore.

It is such a legendary place in the heart of Paris that every bookworm should see it once in their lives.

4. Boekhandel Dominicanen, Maastricht, the Netherlands

This bookstore is set in a 13th century Dominican church in the city of Maastricht. The ecclesiastical function of the church ended in 1796 and after that it served a variety of purposes. In 2006, the church was transformed into a bookstore featuring three-storey bookshelves in the nave. You can browse among a vast collection of new and second-hand books. Whilst browsing, admire the beautiful frescoes across the vaulted ceiling and the gorgeous stained-glass windows.

The combination of a modern bookstore and an old church is truly impressive, it’s a must-see.

5. The Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World: Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice

This bookstore is one of a kind. It is undeniably one of the most unique stores in the world. Since it is hidden among the canals, you can pass by the bookshop on a Gondola ride. How charming it is!

The store will definitely make a strong impression on you. Inside, you’ll encounter several cats nestled among the piles of books. So, if you are obsessed both with books and cats, this is your place! Moreover, at the back of the store, in a courtyard, there is a makeshift staircase consisting of old water-damaged books. It is a cool spot for photographing. Since frequent flooding is a real problem in Venice, this bookstore had to come up with a solution to protect its collection. They came up with the idea of putting the books in gondolas and bathtubs. Marvelous!

If you are in Venice, drop by this bookstore, it’s definitely worth visiting!

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