The Casa dos Vinte e Quatro (literally House of the Twenty Four), Porto’s medieval Town Hall, is located just a couple of yards from the Cathedral. The curious name of the building is due to the fact that it was here, throughout the Middle Ages until the 16th century, that Porto’s guilds (the associations of craftsmen and artisans) gathered to manage their business and even to govern the city. Each master craftsman represented one of the 24 main crafts of the city (goldsmiths, tailors, blacksmiths, potters, shoemakers, etc.).
Until 1408, bishops were the governors of the city. However, after that, the king of Portugal gave the city government to its residents. Since then, Porto became a free city, governed by its best men, most of all artisans and merchants. And it was precisely in the Casa dos Vinte e Quatro, in front of the Cathedral (symbol of the old power of the bishops), that the guilds gathered, defying the bishops, who never ceased to think of the power they had lost.
In the 17th century however, the house was no longer able to be the City Hall, and was used as a jail. A little later, for just a few years, it was also the city mint, where coins were struck.
The house is an old medieval tower, which was in ruins by the end of the 20th century. By 2000, the city mayor renovated the building. The awarded architect Fernando Távora (1923-2005) was in charge of the works. One of this space peculiarities is the intersection between the modern and the old, between history and the future.
Along Casa dos Vinte e Quatro front doorway, is a beautiful terrace, where you can have the most perfect view of Bairro da Sé, Torre dos Clérigos, Cadeia da Relação, Mosteiro da Vitória and most of the eastern Porto’s uptown.
A tourist office also works in this building, so there’s no better place to ask for any information about your visit to Porto.