28 de fev. de 2023

Bertrand do Chiado is the oldest bookstore in the world

How many stories does the oldest bookstore in the world hold? No one knows, nor can anyone know. Because there are countless memories of a house that is almost 300 years old. Refuge of writers, revolutionaries and conspirators, 73 Rua Garrett is listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

As soon as we enter the first room, we immediately realize that Bertrand is not just any bookstore. On the right side, a sign marks the “Cantinho de Aquilino”, a tribute to the writer Aquilino Ribeiro, who liked to stay calm and read there. Alexandre Herculano was also a frequent visitor to the house, to launch his books and participate in the daily gatherings. The space ended up functioning as a literary club, a meeting point for great figures of Portuguese literature. Intellectuals from the 1970s passed through there, such as Eça de Queirós, Antero de Quental, Ramalho Ortigão and Oliveira Martins. And so many others, even today.

In the many stories that are told, of utopian revolutionaries and conspirators who hatched their plans here, one in particular still causes chills: José Fontana, defender of workers and founder of the Associação Fraternidade Operária, which later gave rise to the Socialist Party, committed suicide. inside the bookshop where he had started his professional life.

Bertrand, founded in 1732, was born as a business of a French family. Installed first on Rua Direita do Loreto, in Lisbon, it was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, but the mark of the books survived. The bookstore was then transferred to the Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Necessidades and, in 1773, it was definitely reborn in Chiado.

Considered one of the most emblematic Portuguese bookstores, Bertrand in Baixa Pombalina was officially distinguished by the Guinness World Records in 2011 as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. The certificate, displayed in a prominent place in the store, happened almost by chance, as he begins by telling us about the piece we bring here.

Article written by 

Matias Santana

Casa de Livro

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