Society

Lello Bookshop will be woven through with a new concept: cultural place, signed by Siza Vieira

  • Dulce Pereira Abrantes

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Lello Bookstore, renowned as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world will be woven through with a new concept: no other than a cultural site, under the label of Pritzker Siza Vieira. The project will be shaped at the Rua das Carmelitas, 148, which will enable a direct connection to Lello Bookstore.

According to an official source at Lello, Porto will be granted “a building with its own soul, devoted to culture and with various facets, adding to the cultural offer in the city, with books as starting points and with own programmes”.

The Chairman of Lello’s Board of Directors, Aurora Pedro Pinto, mentions that “the building renovation is the accomplishment of a dream” and that “it means an investment not only in the Bookshop but in the city as well”.

Lello Bookshop also announced the purchase of the collection of the centennial Coimbra Editora and Gráfica Coimbra, which closed doors in 2020, following 100 years in the book business. The acquis includes first editions of Miguel Torga, publications by Marcelo Caetano and António de Oliveira Salazar, as well as works by Vergílio Ferreira and Eugénio de Andrade.

One of the hot spots for tourists in the Invicta, the bookstore celebrates 115 years, as it was built in 1906 in Porto, Portugal by The Lello Brothers (Antonio and Jose). The inauguration day, 115 years ago, in 1906, was captured by Aurélio Paz dos Reis photography: it features a ballerina dancing to the sound of a waltz composed by Alfredo Keil, children listening to stories by Beatrix Potter and a photographer with a bowler hat.

Lello is one of the most ornate bookstores in the world, mixing Neo-Gothic and Art Dec elements, carved wood ceilings, a stain-glassed roof, and an undulating, opulent red staircase. The bookstore building has been classified as a Public Interest Monument.

Currently, Lello is one of the landmark monuments of the city of Porto, receiving thousands of visitors from all over the world. In 2017 alone, about 1.235.472 people have visited Lello.

Already in the years 2016 and 2017, the Bookshop underwent renovation works, in a total investment of €2 million, making it possible to open to the public hitherto reserved rooms, namely a bookbinding and handwriting atelier as well as showing the public deluxe editions and rare books.

The first phase of the rehabilitation works comprised the roof, façade and stained glass restauration. The second phase involved refurbishing the building interior, namely wood and stucco refinishing, electrical system recasting, lighting and the installation of new air-conditioning equipment. All works have been performed with the bookshop open to the public.

The New York Times described Lello as a “shop crowded on a daily basis with various nationalities”, in its “Temples for the Literary Pilgrim" category.