Casa do Infante

Casa do Infante – The Navigator’s Birthplace

The riverfront mansion, at the edge of Porto’s city centre, Casa do Infante, was built in the 14th century. The House of Prince, as it is also known, is believed to be where Henry the Navigator was born. His birth certificates and other historical records are still part of the current collection, housed in the house’s museum archive.

The impressive mansion which has been remodeled to counter its age, originally served as the royal family’s residence during official visits. It also served as the customs house for about five hundred years, a convenient purpose considering its close proximity to the river Douro. Thus, Casa do Infante in Porto is also called Alfandega Velha, which means the Old Customs House.

The modest looking historic house has been revamped over the centuries and the recent remodeling has successfully married modern elements with the ancient design, thus continuing to preserve its heritage. The archaeological findings and the distinct mosaic flooring are on display to remember the origins of the Casa do Infante (House of Prince).

It is now home to the city archives and doubles as a museum, with temporary exhibitions as well as other historic artifacts, including excavated remains of a Roman palace. Such rich historic collection attracts visits from school children and history enthusiasts. Also, guided tours are available with advance booking.

Joining the tour will take visitors to the library and a small theatre, also royal attire such as hats and crowns, worn by Prince Henry’s family are on display. There is also a short film screening, which shows the evolution of Casa do Infante and Porto over the centuries.

English speaking visitors may be well prepared to expect only Portuguese explanations, throughout the museum though a booklet with English information is available at the entrance.

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