Christopher Columbus House

Historic Building in Genova

Christopher Columbus House
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Graziella taibi

The so-called “Columbus’ House” finds its location in proximity to the Porta Soprana gate, positioned just outside the bounds of the medieval walls. This structure, thought to be a reconstruction from the 18th century, stands as a representation of the original medieval edifice, which bore witness to the formative years of the explorer Christopher Columbus. The house, most likely obliterated during the bombardment by the French naval forces of King Louis XIV that struck Genoa in 1684, comprises two levels. The ground floor was utilized as a workshop by Columbus’ father, Domenico Columbus, who engaged in the wool weaving and trading industries. The upper floor served as the familial residence. Written accounts suggest that Columbus resided within this dwelling between 1455 and 1470.

The building’s history is intertwined with both the damages inflicted by the 1684 French bombardment and the substantial urban development that took place within the vicinity of Ponticello, where the house stood. The district derived its name from a now-extinct alleyway known as Vico Dritto Ponticello, situated just beyond the ancient Porta Soprana on St. Andrew Cloister, where the house stands. Genoese historian Marcello Staglieno, credited with unearthing Columbus’ home, posits that during Columbus’ time, the edifice encompassed two, or possibly three, stories and was reconstructed based on its original remnants. Archival documents unearthed by Genoese historians suggest that Domenico Columbus, the illustrious navigator’s father, relocated with his family to Vico Dritto Ponticello in 1455, when Christopher Columbus was a mere four years old. The ground floor functioned as a workshop, with the entrance positioned to the left of the façade. An intervening wooden truss ceiling delineated this level from the upper floor, likely mimicking the original structure.

In 1887, the house was acquired by the Municipality of Genoa, serving as tangible testament to the origins of the Genoese navigator. Consequently, the edifice was incorporated into the restoration initiative for Porta Soprana, a step that safeguarded its existence amidst the transformative changes that swept through the city center from the late 19th century through the 1930s. A plaque affixed to the principal facade of the house bears the inscription: “No home is more worthy of consideration than this one, where Christopher Columbus spent his early youth within the embrace of paternal walls.”

The Christopher Columbus House appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Genova!

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Visiting Christopher Columbus House

Address: Christopher Columbus' House, Via di Porta Soprana, Genoa, Metropolitan City of Genoa, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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