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Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

7 Bookstores Too Beautiful For Words

Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Miguel Vieira, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For voracious readers, a beautiful bookstore ranks up there with ocean views and new-baby-smell in the relaxation department. In honor of National Book Lovers Day, take a look at these seven examples of paginated paradise.

1. Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid // Buenos Aires, Argentina

Formerly a 1920s-era performance and movie theater, the Grand Splendid was the home of tango stars like Carlos Gardel. Everything inside has been repurposed: The box seats have been converted to reading nooks, while the stage is now a cafe. Visit in the afternoons and you might get to hear someone at the piano taking advantage of the building's amazing acoustics.

2. Livraria Lello & Irmão // Porto, Portugal

Remind you of Hogwarts? You’re not alone. Former Porto resident J.K. Rowling is rumored to have been inspired by this sprawling bookstore, which features a winding, split staircase, an art gallery, and a tea room.

3. Livraria Cultura // São Paulo, Brazil


Part of a shopping plaza, Brazil’s largest bookstore features four levels, including a “geek mezzanine” for comics readers; rows of bleachers encourage idling. 

4. Selexyz Dominicanen // Maastricht, Holland

With the kind of grandeur available only to 700-year-old churches, the Selexyz is a place of book worship. Frescoes decorate the ceiling, and a cross-shaped table sits in the store’s café.

5. Atlantis Books // Oia, Santorini, Greece

Craig Walzer and Oliver Wise were touring Greece in 2002 when they decided it would be a good idea to open a bookstore in one of the famed white houses nestled in the rock cliffs of Santorini. The shop has a rotating staff that actually lives on the premises; the upper-level deck (shown above) has a terrible view, but somehow visitors get by.

6. Poplar Kid’s Republic // Beijing, China

Like cats, children enjoy stuffing themselves into tight spaces. Designers took that into account in developing the Poplar bookstore, which incorporates little circular reading spaces and bright color accents.  

7. Carturesti Carusel // Bucharest, Romania

Carturesti Carusel via Facebook


Six stories of books, books, and more books populate this 10,760 square foot establishment, which opened earlier this year. Formerly a bank building, the store appears to be a thriving business when it's not being seized by communists.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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