Friday, March 21, 2014

This is a bookstore, Livraria Lello & Irmão, in the city of Oporto in Portugal. The bookshop was established on Clérigos Street in 1869, and sold after its founder's death. It moved to Almada Street in 1881, and was sold in 1894 to José Lello. The bookstore got its current name in 1919.

The two-story structure was built in 1906 by Xavier Esteves, a professor of engineering at the Instituto Industrial e Commercial of Porto. He took inspiration from the Galleries Lafayette in Paris. The exterior is in the Art Nouveau-Perpendicular style, a somewhat eccentric combination of Art Nouveau with Gothic Revival elements, and is executed in reinforced concrete. The light beige color of the exterior was chosen in the hopes that it would weather and blend in with the darkened stone buildings in the street. It didn't happen. Female figures of Arts (left) and Sciences are painted in muted colors on either side of the main window.

The interior of the building consists of a main, grand, sculptural staircase. Most of the interior is in the Gothic Revival style, with heavy, wood bookshelves lining the walls. Although the building is rectangular, niches and cupboards help shape the interior space into an octagon on one level and a circle on the other. The shop has an inventory of about 60,000 books, which changes frequently. Little else of the interior has changed since the building opened, however. There are comfortable stuffed chairs scattered through the bookstore, and four tiny tables serve as a coffee shop on the second floor. Windows are of stained glass.

Livraria Lello & Irmão also publishes books as well.

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