The Harry Potter Bookstore
Built in 1906, the Livraria Lello and Irmão has been described as one of the finest bookshops on the planet. I would dispute this as the selection of books are nothing out of the ordinary; however, the spectacularly ornate interior is. Featuring interwinding central staircases, sumptuous wood carvings, stained glass and a bridge, the decor more fitting of a cathedral than a bookstore!
Now, I assume that most people visiting are the Livraria Lello e Irmão not going to be looking for a book, so I'll concentrate on the building!
The building was designed by architect Xavier Esteves and opened 1906. The styling is eclectic to say the least, with a neo-classical / moorish inspired facade leading into a wonderland of Art Nouveaux excess. I read somewhere there are even hints of Gothic Revival to be found. If all that doesn't mean too much to you then the photos are pretty self explanatory!
It is little wonder that the Lello and Irmão bookstore is believed to have provided much of the inspiration for the Hogwarts School building in the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling was actually an English teacher in Porto during the 1990s. It is also said that the black cloaks worn by Portuguese university students on formal occasions was a major inspiration for the Hogwarts uniform.
To some extent the bookshop has become a victim of its own success, and unless you get here early in the morning it is pretty much guaranteed to by busy. There was a time when the owners of the shop were a little frustrated with all the people who would come into the shop merely to have a look around and take a few photos. Things have changed now and visitors are now charged for admission which can be recovered if any books are purchased. You can imagine how many people actually buy a book here though!