Flip through rare books in an unbelievable setting.

By Talia Avakian
December 03, 2016
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Courtesy of Livraria Lello / Manuel Varzim

The Livraria Lello, in Porto, Portugal, is often featured as one of the world’s most stunning bookshops. Its architecture is so stunning, it's rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s depictions of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

Courtesy of Livraria Lello / Manuel Varzim

The shop was opened by brothers José and António Lello in 1906, who were both lovers of literature and were part of Portugal’s intellectual groups of the time.

The space became a prominent hangout for famed writers and avid readers, and that reputation continued through the years—all the way to J.K. Rowling's time.

According to AFP, Rowling was a loyal customer at the bookshop. Customers have often noted the resemblance between the shop's architectural features—like its twisting grand staircase—and designs in Rowling's imagined Harry Potter world.

Customers also told AFP the space resembles the books' Flourish and Botts bookshop, where sorcerers in the series can pick up magic manuals.

The neo-Gothic building has a stained-glass skylight that illuminates the shop, wood-carved handrails, Art Deco detailing on the walls, a detailed plaster ceiling, and a glass door guarding the shop's oldest books of rare first and collectors editions.

Courtesy of Livraria Lello / Manuel Varzim

The bookstore, which used to have a printing shop, became a popular tourist attraction for Brazilians who often saw encyclopedias in their grandparents’ libraries from the shop, according to communications manager Manuel de Sousa.

Now it's a popular attraction for travelers who come to peruse the books and admire the whimsical design.

An entrance fee of three euros allows visitors to wander through the shop's corridors and books.

Interested in more book-related curiosities in Portugal? Check out the Literary Man Hotel in Obidos, a bookshop hotel that sits in a 700-year-old castle.