April 22, 2011

Guiness World Records: Portuguese Bertrand is the longest running bookshop!

It has just been announced that Bertrand, the Chiado (Garrett Street) Lisbon bookshop, is the longest-running bookshop. Guinness World Records certified it. There’s an ad from Bertrand where one can read: “Founded in 1732. We witnessed 1 earthquake, 1 civil war, 9 kings, the assassination of a king, 16 presidents, 48 prime-ministers. 3 republics, 6 coup d'état, 2 world wars, the fall of the wall, the unification of Europe, the introduction of the Euro... and, we also sell books!”

The original bookshop was devastated by Lisbon’s 1755 big earthquake but the business was settled elsewhere and kept going. This house was a space of culture where many of our most important Portuguese writers met for a debate. Today is a regular bookshop where I went maybe a dozen times because if I go to Chiado – that Lisbon city area is called Chiado - I always get in to have a look. José Fontana, the founder of Portuguese socialist movement, brilliant activist and spokesman, killed himself inside tormented by his disease, tuberculosis. He was the bookshop manager and very young. Bertrand is present in a lot of Portuguese cities. I have a Bertrand client card for years as books are one of those things I can’t resist. I don't have a photo of the store to show you. But click on Bertrand Page to view an old sepia photo, today the store looks just the same on the outside. Long live Bertrand!

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