Porto travel log: Harry Potter in the Livraria Lello bookstore

If you are ever in Porto, Portugal, you definitely need to stop by the Livraria Lello! It’s not that much to look at from the outside, but the inside is amazing. Right next door is the touristic centre of the bookstore, where you need to buy your entrance ticket. Once inside, you immediately see where this Harry Potter bookstore gets its name from.

Livraria Lello bookstore


This spiralling staircase served as inspiration for J.K. Rowling when designing the staircases of Hogwarts and specifically the staircase for Dumbledore’s office. I photographed it from all different directions!

livraria lello staircase

The Crimson Staircase

This is “The Crimson staircase”. The ceiling design of the ground floor is quite deceiving. It seems as if made of carved wood, yet it is in fact painted plaster, a technique also used on the ornaments to the staircase. On top of the staircase, there is a mezzanine with a detailing of the wooden balusters. On the top floor, you find a beautiful stained-glass skylight, with the slogan”Decus in Labore” which is Latin for “Dignity in Work”. You will notice architectural details like the wood-carved handrail, the Art Deco detailing of the walls and columns.

Since 1906, Livraria Lello has been the house for men of arts and letters, an inspiration for acclaimed authors, a place for social gatherings, performances and a quiet library for many of Invicta’s avid readers. Today it receives thousands of visitors from around the world, who everyday enter its doors to visit this magnificent Neo-Gothic gem, from the beginning of the twentieth century. Livraria Lello welcomes you to step into this house of culture and appreciates your respect, admiration and support for the preservation of its glory which we thrive to keep since its early days. Welcome to the most beautiful bookshop in the world!

“Rumor has it J.K. Rowling was inspired by Livraria Lello while writing Harry Potter (and teaching English) in Portugal. It doesn’t take long to appreciate Lello’s potential as muse: a stained-glass atrium puts the spotlight on the bookshop’s deep-red staircase, spectacular enough to stop you in your tracks.” That is also clear from the touristic centre and Harry Potter gift shop next door:

livraria lello bookstore

Salazar Slytherin’s name

But this library is not the only thing that inspired Rowling when writing her books. Did you know for example, that Salazar Slytherin was named after António de Oliveira Salazar, the prime minister of Portugal from 1932 to 1968? The proof is on Twitter!

Salazar Slytherin

Fonte dos Leões

And right outside the Livraria Lello bookstore, you can stumble upon a fountain called Fonte dos Leões that also served as inspiration for Rowling. The fountain features four lions with wings, which makes them look like mythical gryphons. Gryffindor, anyone?

gryffindor fountain

Hogwarts uniforms

Also, if you’re walking around the university district in Portugal, you’ll notice a lot of students in white shirts, black dress trousers and shoes, a tie and a cape. It’s the students’ uniform. And I checked with my Portuguese friends, and they really do wear those uniforms! How could this not have served as inspiration for the Hogwarts uniforms?

Visiting Porto

I loved Porto! So much unexpected Harry Potter history embedded in this beautiful town. It’s a very hilly city, with loads of history and amazingly beautiful to walk around in. You can take rides on the traditional trams, eat delicious pasteis de nata and drink some lovely Porto wine. Even besides the Harry Potter trivia, this is a lovely town to visit.

Happy reading and traveling,

Loes M.

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