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The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

In an age where brick-and-mortar bookshops are few and far between, we celebrate print and the written world with our round-up of the world’s most beautiful bookstores.

The World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

This bookstore may be small, but it can entertain for hours. Books are stacked – in no particular order – from the floor to the ceiling, and there is even a gondola overflowing with tattered tomes, postcards and posters. Out the back, there’s a stairway built of books – climb to the top for views over the city’s canals. The highlights, however, are the store’s resident cats, which curl up wherever they please and take no notice of curious shoppers.

Assouline, London

El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A 1919 former theatre transformed by architect Fernando Manzon into a spectacular bookstore, El Ateneo is a tourist attraction in its own right. Located in Buenos Aire’s Recoleta neighbourhood, the jaw-dropping store displays rows and rows of books set in ornate balconies beneath a ceiling painted by Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi. You could spend all day here.

Livraria Lello

Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

If you’ve ever visited Livraria Lello, it probably comes as no surprise that it was part of the inspiration behind J.K. Rowling’s imaginary Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series – the author lived in Porto for a time when writing the novels, and was a regular visitor to the bookstore. Set in a neo-gothic building, the 1906 space housed more than 100,000 books, set on carved mahogany shelves illuminated by soft light through stained glass.

Assouline, London

Assouline, London, UK

At a time when many bookstores are shutting up shop, it’s refreshing to see this relatively new London establishment thriving. Publishing company Assouline’s flagship bookstore in Piccadilly occupies a 1922 building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. And while the focus here is on books – including volumes that you can have custom made by the on-site book binder – there are also homewares and furnishings to take home as souvenirs.

Shakespeare and Co

Shakespeare and Co., Paris, France

Founded by American George Whitman in 1951, this cosy bookstore in Paris’ Left Bank remains a landmark in the city. The 17th-century building that once housed a monastery is today home to books in all manner of languages, stacked floor to ceiling and even spilling out onto the footpath.

 

 

 

 

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