Eleven amazing must-see bookshops
November 11 is Bookshop Day, the perfect day to show some love for these havens of literature which, for centuries, have been our gateway to knowledge, entertainment and fantasy. We thought we'd take this chance to give you a rundown of some of Spain's most enchanting, unique bookshops. Extraordinary spaces with locations, architecture, history and interior designs like nothing you've ever seen before. Are you in?
Despite the rising popularity of e-books, bookshops still have a huge role to play in selling books and fostering a love of reading. There is nothing like breathing in the scent of a real book, or spending a while absorbed in flicking though its well-thumbed pages. Another great thing about bookshops is the personal touch and the book recommendations they offer. These are just a few of our favourites:
Librería Bardón (Madrid). Founded in 1947, this is one of Spain's top used bookshops. Wandering its aisles is like being transported back in time. Thousands of books grace the dark wood shelves in the store's various spaces. It specialises in early editions, from incunables to 18th and 19th century print editions, particularly books illustrated using a broad range of different techniques.
Librería Miguel Miranda (Madrid). Its impressive golden spiral staircase and gorgeous marble floors make this space a real city centre treasure trove. It houses rare, antique tomes, some of which are practically impossible to get hold of.
Mapas y Compañía (Málaga). The decoration of this store is like nothing you've ever seen. Globes, hot air balloons and dark wood shelves set a magical backdrop in this bookshop, which stocks every book and travel guide you could ever possibly need.
La Central del Raval (Barcelona). Located in what was once the Capilla de la Misericordia in El Raval, dating back to the 16th century. Spanning an impressive 850 square metres, it houses almost 80,000 books.
Librería Ojanguren (Oviedo). Since it opened its doors in 1856, the distinguished guests of this iconic store have included none other than Leopoldo Alas Clarín. Its two stories are crammed with books spanning every possible genre.
Librería Astarloa (Bilbao). You'll find a tremendous variety of antique, rare and intriguing volumes here, as well as incunables, manuscripts and second-hand books, not to mention other antiques and collectors' items. Wooden shelving, soft, warm lighting and a charming glass and wood counter will transport you to another time and place.
Laie Museu Picasso (Barcelona). This bookstore specialises in art - specifically the art of Pablo Picasso - and is spectacularly located in a Gothic palace in central Barcelona. As you explore the store you'll find stone walls, open brickwork, semi-circular arches and Baroque-inspired spaces decorated with glass lamps.
Librería Anticuario Rafael Solaz (Valencia). The glorious external façade is just a hint of the authentic paradise that awaits within. A charming, distinctly British style evokes the bookshops of yesteryear, transporting the visitor back to Victorian times. Rafael Solaz, the store's owner, is renowned as Europe's youngest seller of old books.
La Galatea (Salamanca). The red wood-framed windows of the store front open onto a beautiful space, packed with collectors' items and highly valuable vinyls. Its hidden treasures include some rare, old and very surprising books, including some dedicated, signed copies.
Librería Cálamo (Zaragoza). The decoration in this enormous space is sublime, both in the adults and the kids' sections. You'll love the hanging decorative birdcages, housing little paper birds.
La Sabatería (Lleida). This is one of the 10 most beautiful small bookshops in the world, according to specialist website Little Books. This diminutive 40 sqm space is packed with new, old and second-hand books. The shop also organises book clubs and writing workshops, alongside social activism initiatives and theatre performances. Among the stacks of books, the shop's walls are decorated with vintage cobbler tools.