Livraria Bertrand: The Oldest Bookstore In The World

Livraria Bertrand has functioned as a bookstore and meeting place since the early 1700s.

Livraria Bertrand, located in Lisbon, Portugal, has operated as a bookstore and meeting place for 290 years. Home of English, French, Portuguese and Spanish literature as well as a corner dedicated to a noteworthy 20th-century novelist and opponent of António de Oliveira Salazar’s government, Livraria Bertrand allows visitors to understand the site’s history which began in the early 18th century.

In 1732, French bookseller Pedro Faure opened the store and retained ownership of it for several years until Marie Betrand, sister-in-law to Pierre Betrand, to whom Faure entrusted the business, took over the bookstore and oversaw its rise in cultural significance.

Livraria Bertrand
Livraria Bertrand, Lisboa : Bertrand bookshop, Lisbon, 1928. FACEBOOK

In the beginning of the 19th century, notable figures began to visit the establishment, including Alexandre Herculano, a novelist and poet who helped introduce Romanticism to Portugal, and Joaquim Pedro de Oliveira Martins, a Portuguese politician and social scientist.

In the 1870s, remarkable authors like José Maria de Eça de Queirós, Antero Tarquínio de Quental and José Duarte Ramalho Ortigão began to meet at the bookstore, discussing literature and politics for hours.

Within the same decade, after the Betrand family line ended, José Fontana, founder of the nation’s Socialist Workers’ Party, organizer of the Casino Conferences and the store’s bookseller, became the owner of the business, though he died in 1876.

Later, Nobre França and José Bastos managed the establishment before Artur Brandão maintained it, with the store eventually being renamed Livraria Bertrand in 1933.

Livraria Bertrand
FACEBOOK Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

Several authors, artists and politicians began to associate themselves with the bookstore in the following years, with some collaborating on Livraria Bertrand’s publications, known as Ilustração and Magazine Bertrand.

In the 1950s, Aquilino Ribeiro, a Portuguese writer and diplomat who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, started to meet with younger authors who opposed Salazar’s authority. Nowadays, visitors can see the corner dedicated to him in the first room in the establishment.

Two decades later, writers such as Augusto Abelaira, Irene Lisboa and Agustina Bessa-Luís joined Livraria Bertrand’s catalog, while Revista Lusitana continued to be published.

On April 19, 2010, Guiness World Records declared Livraria Bertrand to be the world’s oldest operating bookstore, a title it currently holds.

Livraria Bertrand
Facebook: Schweizer Literaturgesellschaft

Today, guests can buy books online or in person at the historic location or one of the more than 50 stores in the business’ network. There are shops in Aveiro, Espinho, Barcelos and Castelo Branco, as well as Coimbra, Faro, Algarve and Leiria, along with other cities.

If one wishes, they may also participate in Livraria Bertrand’s events, including lessons on Portuguese art, history, liberal feminism and literature, as well as workshops focused on book writing, creative thinking, critical thinking and nutritional education, among other topics.

Livraria Bertrand
FACEBOOK Iracema Alves Oggero

Given the store’s noteworthy history and amenities, visiting Livraria Bertrand may be a wise choice. In addition to browsing the shop’s countless international works, guests can immerse themselves in the establishment’s unique past.

What’s more, travelers can also experience Portugal’s history through other institutions like the Museum of Aljube Resistance and Freedom, which is an approximately 15-minute walk away from the shop, and Oriente Museum, which is a 25-minute trip away from the store.

Ray Lewis

Content Editor Associate

Originally from New Jersey, Ray developed a passion for traveling through his adventures in Europe. He created unforgettable memories in Greece and Italy, but is looking to explore more countries in different parts of the world as well.

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