Travel

Travel Bucketlist: The World’s Oldest Bookstore

Livraria Bertrand in Portugal’s capital city Lisbon is the world’s oldest bookstore in operation according to the Guinness World Records

People looking at books outside Livrería Bertram in Lisbon
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Although the pandemic has affected the publishing industry, including famous bookstores, Livraria Bertrand, has revealed it is made of stronger stuff. After all, it is not easy to snuff out a place that has been around for nearly three centuries, survived a devastating earthquake, weathered national economic crises, and more.

Located in Portugal’s capital city Lisbon, Livraria Bertrand, founded in 1732, is the world’s oldest bookstore that is still in operation, according to the Guinness World Records. Although the ownership, the name, and the location of the store have changed several times, Livraria Bertrand as we know it today, is considered as the mecca of bibliophiles.

Although the bookstore has over 50 shops across Portugal, it is the one located in the Chiado neighbourhood of Lisbon’s historic centre and cultural district which has won the coveted epaulette. According to records, it was Pedro Faure who opened the first shop, which soon became a favourite hangout of Portuguese writers. After Faure’s death, the shop passed into the hands of the Bertrand brothers. Faure’s daughter was married to Pierre Bertrand, who was the first to join the store as a business partner.

The bookstore suffered severe damages in the earthquake of 1755 and relocated for some time. But returned to its present location in 1773. The store’s latest renovation was around 2014-15. According to veteran visitors, the sight of the sprawling bookstore, with its row after row of wooden bookcases along the walls, interspersed with tables and cabinets, never fails to impress. They have even got a cosy cafe where you can sip on your favourite beverage and pore over your purchase.

At one point, the bookstore began its own printing press and it is said that one of Portugal’s greatest authors, Aquilino Gomes Ribeiro (1885-1963), a Nobel Prize nominee, was a frequent visitor. Even today, the shop has a corner dedicated to Ribeiro, who got several of his books published by the press here.

Currently, the store operates under the aegis of the largest Portuguese publisher Grupo Porto Editora.

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