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The Oldest Bookstore In the Western World

When we were in Lisbon a few years ago, one of my must-dos was to visit Livraria Bertrand.


It was almost a religious experience for me to walk through the door of a bookstore that was established in 1732.


Although it was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, it was moved to the very location it still occupies in 1773. It has been open and continually operating in that same location for 235 years -- three years longer than the United States has existed as a country!

Bertrand has expanded to become a big chain store company with 56 locations throughout Portugal. however, the one we visited on Rue Garrett, just a few blocks from our apartment is the original.

There is a bookstore in Paris - the Galignani that claims to be the oldest, but Bertrand predates it by 30 years.

While looking for the specific dates and statistics, I ran across this web site:
Pretty informative for anyone travelling throughout Europe and in the need of a bookstore.

Comments (7)

Wow, a bookstore from 1732!


I feel the same about bookstores, nice to hear about this one.

Wow, very cool! At first I thought it said "Lebanon", not Lisbon, so I couldn't understand why the writing was in Portuguese! :)


very cool!
Bookstores are really churches without the icons and candles.

Amazing! Thanks for the link. I always find myself spending so much time in bookstores in Italy. Have bookmarked it for future trips.


The Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA has been in continuous operation since 1745 in the same location. This shop has been operating for 28 years longer than the Livraria Bertrand (which opened in 1773). The 1732 opening date for the Livraria Bertrand does not seem relevant since it went out of business for nearly a generation (i.e., 18 years).

Deborah responds:
Very cool, information! Thanks for posting this comment! I've just gone to look up info on Moravian. I do think that there is an argument for Livraria Bertrand in that it has been continuously operating in the SAME location for almost 100 years longer than Moravian has been in its current location. But still, it makes me proud to think a contender for the title is on US soil. :grin:


Bertrand is obviously the oldest bookshop since it was founded in 1732 and still operates. Doesn't really matter if changed (or changes in the future) the location. It's just a detail. Being the oldest should not require conditions, I'm sure there's another bookstore somewhere that's the oldest in the world that operates on a yellow building :)

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