Many years ago, while visiting the ancient walled town of Óbidos on the central coast of Portugal I was intrigued by a padlocked church in the heart of the old Roman town. Being the nosy tourist that I am, I managed to get a peek inside of the rundown building set in the town walls. It was clear that the church had been abandoned decades, even centuries before, but no one that I asked could explain why it was left in such a sad state. So, I was pleased to recently discover that the Igreja de São Tiago has been restored and turned into a stunningly beautiful bookstore.
The Livraria de Santiago, which was created out of the 18th century church, is run by the management of Lisbon’s wonderful Ler Devagar bookstore. Since its opening two years ago, the bookshop has turned Óbidos into a thriving literary destination, with multiple booksellers, a new museum, and even an annual international book festival each summer.