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10 incredible bookstores in unusual places

By: Melissa Breyer on June 12, 2014, 12:01 p.m.
Livraria Lello

Photo: Alegna13 [CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

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Livraria Lello

While the other shops listed here are notable for their use of converted space, Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal stands out for a different reason. It was actually built to be a bookstore ... and it remains one of the most spectacular purpose-built bookshops in the world. While we’ve become accustomed to banal chain bookstores, Livraria Lello is unusual for its elaborate — and we mean elaborate — architectural ornamentation. The shop, built in 1881, includes a dramatic “stairway to heaven,” plentiful stained glass, intricate wood carvings, columns, pressed copper and an extraordinary facade. And extra props for the “secret” coffee shop tucked away on the second floor where shoppers can indulge not only in coffee, but port and cigars as well. Oh, plus books!