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Books of the Past: Exploring Vintage Bookshops in Lisbon


A Literary Journey through Lisbon’s Old Bookshops

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and art. Among its many attractions, the city’s old bookshops hold a special place. These charming establishments, some of which have been around for centuries, are not just places to buy books. They are portals to the past, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich literary history and a chance to connect with the soul of Lisbon. Here are some of the most popular old bookshops in Lisbon that every bibliophile should visit.

1. Livraria Bertrand:

Established in 1732, Livraria Bertrand holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest operating bookshop in the world. Located in the Chiado neighborhood, this iconic store has been a meeting place for intellectuals, writers, and book lovers for centuries. The shop’s interior is as impressive as its history, with wooden shelves filled with books from floor to ceiling and a charming café where you can enjoy a cup of coffee while reading your new purchase.

2. Livraria Ferin:

Just a stone’s throw away from Livraria Bertrand is Livraria Ferin, another historic bookshop that has been serving Lisbon’s book lovers since 1840. This family-owned store specializes in Portuguese literature and history, making it a great place to discover local authors and learn about Portugal’s past. The shop’s old-world charm, complete with wooden ladders and antique furniture, adds to its appeal.

3. Livraria Sá da Costa:

Located in the heart of Lisbon’s downtown district, Livraria Sá da Costa is a haven for rare and antique books. Founded in 1913, this bookshop has an extensive collection of old books, manuscripts, and prints, some dating back to the 16th century. The shop also hosts regular exhibitions and cultural events, making it a vibrant hub of Lisbon’s literary scene.

4. Livraria Ler Devagar:

Housed in a former printing warehouse in the trendy LX Factory complex, Livraria Ler Devagar (which translates to “Read Slowly”) is a modern bookshop with a vintage soul. The shop’s industrial-chic interior, complete with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and a suspended bicycle installation, is a visual treat. But the real highlight is the shop’s vast collection of books, which covers everything from contemporary fiction to philosophy.

5. Livraria Alfarrabista A. Pereira:

Tucked away in a narrow alley in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, Livraria Alfarrabista A. Pereira is a hidden gem. This second-hand bookshop, which has been in business since 1969, is known for its eclectic collection of books, magazines, and vinyl records. The shop’s cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

6. Livraria Alvalade:

Located in the Alvalade district, Livraria Alvalade is a family-run bookshop that has been serving the community for over 50 years. The shop’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with its wide selection of books in various languages, makes it a popular spot for book lovers of all ages.

7. Livraria Buchholz:

Founded by German immigrants in 1943, Livraria Buchholz is one of Lisbon’s most prestigious bookshops. Specializing in foreign literature, this shop offers books in several languages, including German, English, French, and Spanish. The shop’s elegant interior, adorned with antique furniture and chandeliers, adds to its charm.

8. Livraria Férin:

Another historic bookshop in Lisbon’s Chiado district, Livraria Férin has been in operation since 1840. This family-owned shop is known for its extensive collection of Portuguese literature and history books. The shop’s old-world charm, complete with wooden ladders and antique furniture, adds to its appeal.

9. Livraria Gomes:

Located in the Baixa district, Livraria Gomes is a small but well-stocked bookshop that specializes in Portuguese literature. The shop’s friendly staff and cozy atmosphere make it a favorite among locals.

10. Livraria Palavra de Viajante:

As the name suggests, Livraria Palavra de Viajante (Word of Traveler Bookshop) is a bookshop dedicated to travel literature. Located in the Santos district, this unique shop offers a wide range of travel books, maps, and guides, making it a must-visit for any travel enthusiast.

Each of these bookshops has its own unique charm and character, reflecting the diversity and richness of Lisbon’s literary scene. Whether you’re a book lover, a history buff, or just a curious traveler, these old bookshops in Lisbon offer a unique and enriching experience that you won’t find anywhere else. So next time you’re in Lisbon, make sure to set aside some time to explore these literary landmarks. You never know what treasures you might discover.




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