Porto, Portugal – It feels as if time has stood still at Lello, a Gothic Revival style bookstore in the historic centre of Porto, whose heady “olde worlde” ambiance inspired some of the scenes for Harry Potter.
It was in Portugal’s second city that Potter author J. K. Rowling let her imagination off the leash during two years spent teaching English in the northern town, spending her free time writing early drafts of the seven-volume global blockbuster that made her a literary household name.
With its delicately sculpted wooden panelling, blue, red and golden stained glass and bookshelves piled high from floor to ceiling – not forgetting its iconic and sweeping staircase – Lello conjures its own form of magic.
The place draws in the beholder to set Potteresque pulses racing, so “familiar” does its setting appear to true fans.
“Wow! It’s amazing – it’s so like Harry Potter!” gushes Ines Pinto, a wide-eyed 11-year-old who makes a beeline for a stack of works on the young magician at the store’s entrance. “For me it’s the spitting image of Flourish and Blotts, where young sorcerers buy their magic manuals,” adds Nerea Moyeno, a 24-year-old Spanish tourist.