Between cobblestone slopes, tile façades, echoes of fado and the aroma of jinginha, today we go back to the capital of Portugal to search and capture the oldest bookshop in Lisbon. Its name is Bertrand and it has the honour of also being the oldest bookstore in the world.
As a bookworm (and library worm) which is one, it is rare that on any trip I do not end up in one of those establishments where paper, ink and dust are the environmental smells par excellence. In those shelves I find another facet of the place I visit…
TRAVELLER TIP: If you expect to find the Harry Potter bookstore in Lisbon, you’ve moved 300 km too far south; what you’re looking for is the Lello bookstore in Porto, also beautiful and with a lot of experience dealing with Potter fans…
Bertrand, the oldest bookshop in Lisbon and in the world
At first glance and except for a Guinness Book sign on the window, no one would say we are in a special place. Bertrand happens to be one of the many bookshops in Lisbon: demure, with an air of carelessness, the name on a simple panel from the thirties…
Then we learn that it was founded in 1732, making it the oldest functioning bookstore on the planet. After the cataclysmic earthquake of 1755 it was moved to its current location and has become an obligatory point of passage for all personalities of the Portuguese language for two and a half centuries.
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Bem-vindos à nossa casa no Instagram. Somos a livraria mais antiga do mundo em funcionamento. A ler com os portugueses desde 1732. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Welcome to our Instagram account. We are the oldest operating bookshop in the world. Reading with Portugal since 1732. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Share your visits to Livraria Bertrand at Chiado with our hashtags: #bertrandchiado #livrariamaisantigadomundo #theoldestbookshopintheworld ❤️📖
The shelves and cupboards are located in different rooms dedicated to Eça de Queiroz, Alexandre Herculano, Aquilino Ribeiro and other great Portuguese writers. The whitewashed walls, the brick vaulted ceilings and the old wood all give it the charm you would expect.
Although the bookstore itself has no website, the building has become a powerful chain with an online store and more than 54 physical establishments spread throughout Portugal. It also has a beautiful contemporary cafeteria next to its original headquarters.
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A nossa Livraria é amiga dos animais. Da próxima vez que nos visitar, traga o seu patudo para uma viagem inesquecível ao mundo dos livros. 🙂 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ — ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Our Bookshop is pet friendly. Next time you visit us, make sure you bring your buddy in, to an unforgettable trip to the world of books. 🙂 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 📸: @simao_the_beagle #bertrand #bertrandchiado #baixachiado #livrariamaisantigadomundo #theoldestbookshopintheworld #bookstagram #booksofig #igliterario #dogs #dogsofinstagram
Ler Devagar, the most beautiful in the city
There is another establishment in the Portuguese capital that competes with Bertrand for the most famous bookstore title in Lisbon. In any case, it is considered the most beautiful bookstore in Lisbon and, in fact, one of the most beautiful in the world, according to some lists.
It is called Ler Devagar (To Read Slowly, would be the translation) and is found in r. Rodrigues de Faria 103 – ed. G 0.3, in an old textile factory. It is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so it is the perfect occasion to come and get to know it and experience it.
We say live it, because the cultural agenda of this bookstore deserves special mention. Book launches, literary talks, workshops, storytelling, concerts, plays and a long list of activities are the perfect excuse to frequent this post-industrial establishment close to the 25 April bridge.
It is not the oldest bookshop in Lisbon, but it is the most active. And the strength of its clientele (sustained by the support of its members and “fans”) and its excellent literary offer makes us think that it could become one. Without wishing to undermine Bertrand, of course. But time is cruel and inexorable…
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Come potevo non fermarmi nella libreria più stupefacente di Lisbona? Ler Devagar, che significa leggere lentamente, è una libreria indipendente fondata nel 1999. Gli scaffali pieni di libri si susseguono riempiendo le pareti fino al soffitto: due piani di volumi in diverse lingue, arte, letteratura, viaggi e fiabe. Al secondo piano si trova anche un piccolo bar con qualche tavolino dove fermarsi a chiacchierare o a leggere. #lettura #libri #leggere #libridaleggere #libro #bookstagram #book #lerdevagar #books #instabook #instalibri #librichepassione #leggeresempre #leggerechepassione #booklover #read #consiglidilettura #letteratura #poesia #lisbona #libribelli #parole #romanzo #bookblogger #romanzi #scrivere #frasi #amoleggere #libreria #librididonne
Book Tour of Lisbon
Now that we are here, we can take the opportunity to continue taking a stroll through the most literary Lisbon… Well, rather, the most bookish Lisbon, which is not the same thing: visiting other bookstores, book markets or reading places.
- Once again, the Feria da Ladra, always. Among other trinkets and gadgets, there are also books in the Lisbon market par excellence.
- Very close to the oldest bookshop in Lisbon, in the Chiado district, there is a constellation of antique or second-hand bookshops (what the Portuguese call alfarrabistas) with a lot of charm: Ferin (Nova do Almada 72), Castro e Silva (Misericórdia 14, loja 3), Sá da Costa (Garrett 100), Trinity (Alecrim 36), Campos Trindade (Alecrim 44)?
- Do you like comics? BD Mania, in Flores 71 (Bairro alto), is your spot.
- Among Lisbon’s municipal libraries, the modest and secluded São Lázaro Library, in Arroios (Saco 1), is well worth the walk….
- If your visit coincides with the Lisbon Book Fair, don’t miss it, it’s a multifaceted event held in the iconic Eduardo VII Park.
The bibliophile tourist should not cross the last bridges of the Tagus without passing through the oldest bookshop in Lisbon.
And while you’ re at it, buy a few books at Bertrand, at Ler Devagar and at any other bookstore or anonymous stall where writings are sold…
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To discover the essence of the places you visit; look for them in the little things…
Visiting Lisbon’s bookstores is an unbeatable way to round off your visit to Lisbon… You don’t know what to do? Well, read this: What to do in Lisbon: an essential guide.
In that article you will find a few ideas of the best things you can see and do in Lisbon, whether you are going to be there for a couple of days or a whole week.
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