Barcelona as a literary paradiseDiscover some of the most unique bookshops hidden in the city’s streets.
There are various ways of getting lost in Barcelona. One way is to get lost through literature: if you let yourself get carried away, there are a multitude of book temples with all sorts of stories to tell. For those with a passion for reading, few things compare to having a book in your hands, caressing its pages and savouring the smell of ink which emanates from it.
Barcelona is a paradise for bookshops. Recognised as a City of Literature by UNESCO, the city has more than 300 of them: from new ones to traditional ones, specialist ones, second-hand ones and many more. Whichever neighbourhood you’re in, you’ll find one in practically every street.
Here are some places where you can escape the notion of time among novels, pick up your favourite reads or simply savour the essence of these very special businesses.
Just a few months old, this bookshop is something of a sanctuary for second-hand books. Located in the neighbourhood of Sant Antoni, the four walls holding up this place are home to nearly 11,000 books, lovingly prepared to be reused. All the books are very reasonably priced, with a chat with the bookseller thrown in at no extra cost.
Where: C/ Comte Borrell, 133
Ona Llibres opened a very special new shop last spring. With its surprisingly large floorspace, the new establishment adopts the philosophy of the original and offers an extensive collection of volumes exclusively in Catalan. As if its sensational design wasn’t enough, the bookshop stands out for the Bookeria, a small theatre inviting people to sit and leaf through the second-hand books which fill the shelves.
Where: C/ Pau Claris, 94
Who would have thought that a former sex-shop would in time become one of Barcelona’s finest temples for culture? With its neighbourhood philosophy, this place exists thanks to funding from fifty partners and offers a space which acts as a bookshop, café, art gallery, function room, theatre, concert venue and much more.
Where: C/ Buenos Aires, 6
If you love reading and Barcelona’s literary world, you will have heard of this establishment. Graced with immeasurable elegance, the Laie offers a catalogue brimming with books of all styles and genres. The shop is topped off with a restaurant-style second floor where reading becomes a delight.
Where: C/ Pau Claris, 85
The ambience in this establishment is of a tradition which is highly valued by many. Located in the city centre, this bookshop offers a comfortable literary space hidden among shops and bars. No Modernisme or Pointillism here, and no unnecessary opulence: at the Sant Jordi, the dormant books are arranged in no apparent order, waiting to be found through the most magical of coincidences.
Where: C/ Robador, 43
Specialising in the dissemination of satire, this business is exclusively devoted to selling books on humour, whether classics or comics. It also offers games, gift items and practical joke items. La Llama also features an exhibition room full of pictures, used as a venue for gigs by local comedians and a course for learning monologues.
Where: C/ Villarroel, 34
If you’ve never felt reading is a journey, it’s because you’ve never stepped foot in Altaïr. This bookshop offers a whole world of items for travelling, such as maps and guides, as well as fiction set in the place you want to visit and journalism bringing you closer to a wide variety of cultures. In addition, the moment you walk through the door there’s a notice board for travellers looking for colleagues for their adventures. Are you up for it?
Where: C/ Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 616
Reading can be great fun for anybody who wants it to be. This business has been working to this end for years. Dating back to 1860, its Central European focus means the bookshop offers narrative texts and essays, particularly German, but also toys from Germany and Austria. A set of elements which give the Fabre the stimulating and artisanal air which attracts its users.
Where: C/ Aribau, 84
If you love popular culture and illustrated books, you’re likely to have heard the name Norma Còmics. The establishment features three very different sections (European comics, American comics and Manga). You’ll also find sections on children’s comics, gifts, literature, illustrated books, various products relating to the world of comics and a space devoted to Tintin.
Where: C/ Calàbria, 195
These spaces are just a small sample of Barcelona’s great literary wealth. Discover all the city’s bookshops!