Once upon a time in a land far, far away, one of the most famous bookshops in the world was born. Atlantis Books, located on a busy cobblestone street and down a crumbling staircase, lies Greece’s most iconic destination for book lovers travelling from all over the world.
Oia, Santorini may be known for its whitewashed buildings and epic sunsets, but to readers of any language, Atlantis offers a haven to those looking for more than wine, seafood and outdoor excursions on the picturesque island. From the friendly cat in the window (available for rent for a measly five Euros), to the nomad employees, the stores ranks high on the charm scale.
My husband and I were with our friends Lauren and Lauren (we lovingly refer to the couple as “the Lauren’s”) in Greece this fall, and were enjoying an evening walk in Santorini when we happily discovered that Atlantis was open. Using the walls for support, we hurriedly made our way down the steps and into the jam-packed store.
Our eyes were wide and our hearts were pounding. I immediately fell in love with the place, spinning around, taking it all in. I may sound dramatic, but we all agreed that Atlantis was like no other book store we had been to. The walls were stacked high with poetry, guidebooks, classics, novels, children’s books, memoirs and short stories, all separated by language. The shelves of the store were built by the staff, paint job seems to be a work in progress.
Quotes of famous authors line the wall, winged books hang from the ceiling, and in the back room is a visibly slept-in bed, just in case one of the nomad employees actually is a nomad and needs a place to sleep. The employees will jump at the opportunity to chat to you about anything book-related… including their love life.
When it was finally time to leave, I knew I couldn’t leave without buying something. I was expecting at the time, so I bought our unborn baby a beautiful Winnie the Pooh book, but I made sure not to get it from the first-edition table, which offers books for up to 25,000 Euros. Upon checking out, I was offered an Atlantis bookmark, and my purchase was stamped for authenticity.
We’re all aware that the industry of boutique book stores is a dying one, but I hope this one stays alive for many years to come. It’s just that special. So, if you ever find yourself in Santorini, make it a point to check out one of the world’s most internationally famous book stores. It’s tiny, worn, and lived-in (literally), but those are just some of the elements that make it so magical and well-loved.
I guarantee that all of the books housed at Atlantis will eventually make their ways into cosy homes and books and readers alike will all live happily ever after.