Casa do Infante

Casa do Infante dates all the way back to 1325 and is, in fact, the oldest building in Porto! Most importantly, Prince Henry the Navigator, one of Portugal’s most famous sons, was born here. Known by many names including Dom Henrique of Portugal, the Duke of Viseu, and O Infante de Sagres, Henry the Navigator eventually became a central figure in Portugal’s maritime discoveries due to his help with creating the caravel, a very advanced sailing ship, for its time, that allowed sailors to explore the open sea.

Despite his nickname of Navigator, Henry never went on a voyage himself but helped Portugal progress through his patronage and support with new designs for ships, navigational instruments, and maps. Unfortunately, Henry’s efforts also ultimately aided in the creation of the African slave trade and future enslavement of African people.

History

Since its construction in the 14th century, Casa do Infante has been many things. At one point, it was the largest building in Porto and had two large towers as part of the structure. It later served as a residence to receive official visits from the royal house, ultimately becoming the Customs and Mint house for several centuries before undergoing major renovations in 1677, in which the Casa do Infante was virtually rebuilt. At this time, the towers were greatly reduced in height and the front of the building gained two extra floors.

Casa do Infante, Eurocloud Portugal, Flickr

By 1860, Casa do Infante ceased to function as a customshouse, and customs services were transferred to Miragaia. It was not until 1894 that the building placed a Neo-Manueline plaque above the building’s main entrance commemorating Henry the Navigator’s birth in the former customshouse.

Casa do Infante continued to transform into the building we know today between 1957 and 1978 with a number of renovation projects carried out. Porto officials finally decided in 1991 to convert the former birthplace of Henry the Navigator into the Porto Municipal Historical Archives. This included an archaeological intervention in which the remains of large Roman foundation with a mosaic pavement were discovered! What an exciting and layered history this building holds! 

Portion of the Roman excavations within the Casa do Infante, Manuel de Sousa, Wikipedia

Exhibits

Today, the Casa do Infante houses a number of exhibits including the history of Porto, the municipal archives, the results of Henry the Navigator’s efforts, and a scaled model of medieval Porto. You can also see portions of the Roman excavations carried out in the 1990s and view displays on the Royal Mint and Portuguese explorations during the late Middle Ages. 

Your visit should take around an hour. The museum is not huge, but for lovers of history and architecture, and those curious about Porto’s medieval past, this is a fascinating stop. It is also not as crowded as Porto’s other attractions.

How to Get to Casa do Infante

Casa do Infante is located at Rua da Alfândega, 10, 4050-029 Porto. The closest metro station is Sāo Bento and you can take buses 500, 900, 901, 906, ZM, ZR, 1.

Visiting Times & Tickets

Casa do Infante opens its doors to the public throughout the year. It is open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm from Tuesday–Sunday. Guided tours are available at 11:00 am from Tuesday-Friday.

It is closed on Mondays and National Holidays, which include January 1, March 29, March 31, April 25, May 1, May 30, June 10, August 15, October 5, November 1, December 1, December 8, and December 25.

Regular tickets can be purchased for 4 €. For those 65 and over, it is only 2 €. It is also free with the Porto.Card, which includes free public transportation and 150 benefits and discounts for Porto attractions.

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