Cărturești Carusel Bookstore in Bucharest, Romania

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This wonderful building was built in 1903 by a wealthy family of Greek bankers, only to be confiscated by the Communist regime in the 1950s. It was turned into a general store and later abandoned and left to decay as Communism collapsed.

The grandson of the banker who originally bought the building back in 1903 requested that it would be returned to his family, as legal heirs. It took 24 years of battles in court, untangling bureaucratic loops, and finding the proper documents in archives, but he finally took possession of the decaying building in 2007. He then began its remarkable transformation to the Cărturești Carusel ("Carousel of Light") bookstore that stands today.

The extensive renovation went above and beyond, creating a stunning shop considered to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in Romania, and even the world. Seventy-five people put in a combined 20,000 hours of work over the course of five years, rebuilding and customizing every bit of detail. The store's three floors spread across more than 10,000 square feet that hold as many books. There are elegant curved balconies on each of the upper levels, a large open space in the middle, and a teahouse on the top floor that offers a great view of the entire bookstore.