The Livraria Lello & Irmão, commonly known in English as the Lello Bookshop, is a bookshop located in the civil parish of Cedofeita, Santo Ildefonso, Sé, Miragaia, São Nicolau e Vitória, in the northern Portuguese municipality of Porto.

Along with Bertrand in Lisbon, it is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and frequently rated among the top bookstores in the world (placing third in lists by guidebook publisher Lonely Planet and The Guardian).

In 1869, the Livraria Internacional de Ernesto Chardron was founded, from a shop on Rua dos Clérigos by the Frenchman Ernesto Chardron [pt].[1] Following its founder's death, at the age of 45, the firm was sold to Lugan & Genelioux Sucessores.[1]

Alternately, in 1881, José Lello along with his brother-in-law created the firm David Pereira & Lello.[1] But, the following year, after the death of David Lourenço Pereira, the establishment began to be operated as José Pinto de Sousa Lello & Irmão, when he partnered with his younger brother (António Lello).[1] The brothers were born to a property-owner in Villa Ramadas (Fontes), in the municipality of Santa Marta de Penaguião: both became prominent members of Porto's intellectual bourgeoisie by the turn of the century.[1]

In 1891, the Chardron Bookstore acquired the establishments of A. R. da Cruz Coutinho and other bookstores in the city.[1] This ultimately led to Mathieux Lugan selling his share in the Chardon bookstore to the brothers Lello, in 1894.[1] These purchases later included the 7 April 1898 sale of the firm Livraria Lemos & Co.[1]

The brothers hired engineer Francisco Xavier Esteves (1864-1944) to construct the new bookstore on Rua das Carmelitas.[1] In 1906, the Livraria Lello was inaugurated.[1]

By 1919, the bookstore was simply designated as the Lello & Irmão, Lda. With the 1930 addition of José Pereira da Costa, the bookstore began to be known simply as Livraria Lello.[1] But, between 1930 and 1940, it once again became designated Lello & Irmão.[1]

On 14 December 1981, there was a proposal to classify the store by the Delegação Regional do Norte (Northern Regional Delegation) of the Secretary-of-State for Culture.[1] It took almost a decade, before a dispatch was issued by the IPPAR presidency to open a process of classification (on 28 September 1993).[1] The IPPAR consultative council favoured its establishment as a Imóvel de Interesse Público (Property of Public Interest) pm 24 March 1994.[1]

In 1995, Lello & Irmão created a new society: Prólogo Livreiros S.A., which preceded its reopening on 15 March 1995, following a period of restoration and remodelling.[1]

The Secretary-of-State for Culture solicited a presentation on 14 March 201 to establish a special protection zone (ZEP) the site, which was supplemented by the DRCNorte (on 12 April).[1] The proposal was seen as a positive initiative by the National Cultural Council on 31 May. The ZEP decision was published on 28 January 2013 (Announcement 35/2013, Diário da República, Série 2, 19).[1]

Beginning in July 2015, the bookstore began requesting entrance fees for visitors.[1] On 21 April 2016, an artistic mural was erected to conceal the scaffolding placed on the facade of the building, during its restoration, by graffiti writer Dheo and colleague Pariz One.[1] Dheo painted the central area of the mural with a pile of old books, a lit candle and a bottle of Port wine, while the rest was painted by Pariz One with geometric shapes, referring to the stained glass inside the bookstore. The work took two months to produce.[1] On 31 July, following the restoration, the main facade of the building was uncovered, showing the laboratory-tested recovered primitive gray.[1]

In 2022, a collection of touching and sometimes prescient personal letters written by a young Bob Dylan to a high school girlfriend has been sold at auction to Lello bookshop for nearly $670,000.[2]

^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Sereno, Isabel (1995), SIPA (ed.), Livraria Lello & Irmão (IPA.00003972/PT011312150119) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico, retrieved 2017-04-22 ^ "Bob Dylan's love letter collection sold for $670,000". cbsnews.com. 2022-11-22.
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