We have a weak spot for book stores in beautiful buildings. Books are much better appreciated in the magical atmosphere of a historic and monumental building. Scattered around the world, numerous historic and monumental places have been converted into bookshops. Great shops to visit when traveling!
#1 El Ateneo Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires
The most beautiful bookstore in the world! The building was once a theater and you can still see that very well from the inside. There are now countless bookshelves in the main hall and there is a small café on the stage. Don’t forget to walk to one of the lodges at a higher floor for the best view of the hall. Want to know more about Buenos Aires? Read our city guide!
#2 Dominicanen in Maastricht
Bookstore Dominicanen houses an impressive collection of books in a 700 year old church. The church has not been used as a religious site for 200 years and has even served as a bicycle shed for a few years! As a bookstore, the magical atmosphere of the church is much better appreciated than as a parking. The Guardian was right to proclaim this special place as “The fairest bookshop of the world, a bookshop made in heaven“. More reasons to visit Maastricht? Read this blog!
#3 Alexandra in Boedapest
In a beautiful monumental building on the Andrássy Avenue is the Alexandra bookstore, one of the most beautiful places and hidden gems in Budapest. It might actually just not be the bookstore itself that will attrect your attention, but the book café in the back. In the beautiful Lotz Hall – so named after Károly Lotz who made the ceiling paintings – you can sit down for a cup of coffee with a good piece of cake.
Update: the bookstore is now closed, but there’s been some talk about a reopening.
#4 Livraria Lello & Irmão in Porto
This Art Nouveau-style building dates from 1906. The impressive ceiling immediately diverts attention from the books. It may look like wood, but it’s actually just paintwork. The monumental and imposing staircase is also a real eye-catcher. And don’t forget to look at the impressive stained glass! Tip: come early, as a visit to this bookstore is very popular. There is often a long queue outside to enter.
#5 Shakespeare & Company in Parijs
Where the previous bookshops are located in imposing buildings, Shakespeare & Company in the French capital is characterised by the historic look of the store. The English-language bookstore has dark-wood bookcases with those typical classic stairs. The green facades with historical letters complete the look.