A library centennial in the heart of Porto saved thanks to Harry Potter

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PORTO | On the brink of bankruptcy, the bookstore historical Lello in Porto, which could have inspired J. K Rowling to write Harry Potter, was saved by to pay the entrance fee to tourists, which the admirers of the little witch English.

Cameras in hand, dozens of people are constantly queuing to visit the bookshop located in the historic centre of Porto, which has become one of the main tourist attractions of the city in the north of Portugal.

In particular, it is a place of obligatory visit for the admirers of Harry Potter. The novelist british J. K. Rowling, who has lived in Porto in the early 90s, there has indeed drawn his inspiration to describe the atmosphere and decor of the saga.

Like other famous independent bookstores in the country, Lello was still very nearly put the key under the door four years ago while she sees today spend nearly 4 000 visitors per day in high season.

To avoid bankruptcy, the management of the bookstore has had the idea to multiply the cultural events and pay the entrance fee to visitors, which today amounts to 5 euros.

The price of the entrance fee is like a good “deductible in the purchase of a book”, told AFP one of the press officers of the library.

This system was introduced four years ago has enabled us to regulate the flow of tourists” and “turn a visitor into a reader”, welcomes Aurora Pedro Pinto, chair of the board of directors.

This model is a success since it has allowed the library to move onto a new times the million visitors in 2018, from 9 employees in 2015 to 60 in early 2019, and sell on average 1,200 pounds per day, according to figures released by Lello.

This library, to the white façade and neo-gothic with its famous inscription, “Lello & Rimas” (Lello & brother) by letters illuminated, often referred to as the “temple of literature” with a collection of more than 60 000 books, has seen the greatest writers of the Portuguese language.

Its carved woodwork, its immense glass roof coloured in the ceiling, its shelves several feet high, and especially in the central staircase covered with red lacquer, in the shape of eight, have earned this library, which commemorates Sunday its 113th anniversary, to be distinguished several times as one of the most beautiful in the world.