A City Lined with Literature Porto, Portugal

By Weiss, Melissa | World Literature Today, January/February 2013 | Go to article overview

A City Lined with Literature Porto, Portugal


Weiss, Melissa, World Literature Today


Offthe Atlantic Coast is the serene city of Porto. Mostly known for its port wine, the city has established itself as one of Europe's flourishing cultural cities. Selected as Europe's Cultural Capital in 2001, the city now has several art, music, and literary venues that make it a vibrant place to visit even if you're not interested in the wine. Among the city's tributes to literature are statues of literary figures such as José Duarte Ramalho Ortigão, a writer and journalist from the late nineteenth century (gpsmycity.com).

Among the literary landmarks from the past is the Livraria Lello e Irmão, which opened in 1906. Voted the third most beautiful bookstore in the world by Lonely Planet, the store was designed by Xavier Estéves as a neogothic piece with a touch of art nouveau. Its interior-with a curvaceous staircase lined with red carpet and a stained-glass ceiling-is breathtaking. Adding to the beauty of the store are pillars covered in bronze bas-relief depicting Portuguese literary figures. Books line the walls and are even placed in an arching glass case the height of the ceiling. Most of the titles are in Portuguese, although there is a fairly large selection of English and French books, including translations of Portuguese writers (Sean Dobson, bookstoreguide.org).

Not far from Livraria Lello is the Book Restaurante, which opened in 2011. Formerly a bookstore called Aviz, the restaurant renovated the place, maintaining the store's decor. …

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