The Eight Houses, in Portuguese, Oito Casas, originally referred to as the Eight Houses of Lotus or the Octodomi, is the name given to to eight Brazilian higher education institutions founded during the colonial period. These institutions are among the most prestigious and are simnonimous of excellence in Brazil and in the world and are among the oldest in the Americas.

Their motto is "Libido Sciendi " (Latin: Desire for Knowledge).


The name originated from a poem writen by Benjamin Viana in 1779, The Houses of Lotus, which glorified the excellence of these institutions as they enlighten the world with ideas and knowledge. The allegory with the Asian lotus flower came from its association with the legendary Lotos tree of Greek mythology.

In the Odyssey, lotus was a flower-shaped food, with soft smell of honey, that makes the person who eat it forget its mission. Odysseus sent three men to explore the island, called the Lland of the Lotus-Eaters. These men wanted not to return to the ships, being dragged by force, crying. Odysseus was quickly quit the island before other men could the lotuses and did not want to return home.

The allegory of the lotus, according to Viana, was that in one of the Eight Houses men forget their pety missions and are delivered to the burning lust for knowledge and learning.

The term became popular during the 19th century. Today, it is recognized in the nomenclature of the organs associated with such institutions as the academic publisher Oito Casas (Portuguese: Eight Houses), the scientific journal Octodomi and Foundation of the Eight Houses of Lotus.


Founded by local governments and private enterprises, these institutions are currently public, although with activities related to private capital.

Medici University, in New Florence, Ilhéus.

(Universitas Medicensis)

Motto: Suae quisque meretur scire (Latin: Everyone deserves to know.)

Founded in 1531, it is the oldest university of the Americas.

Heraclion Science Academy, in Heraclion, Santa Sofia.

(Scientiarum Academiae Herakleonensis)

Motto: Usque ad siders peruenire (Latin: To reach the stars)

Founded in 1609.

Cabralia University, in Veraluna, Paraíba.

(Universitas Cabraliensis)

Motto: Scientia supra nos (Latin: Knowledge above ourselves)

Founded in 1614.

Royal University of the Magisterium, Salvador, Bahia.

(Regia Universitas Magisteriae)

Motto: Pro Deus, Pro Regis, Pro Nobis (Latin: For God, for the King, for ourselves)

Founded in 1620 by a decree of the Magisterium.

Hellenistic Academy, in Aphrodisia, Paraná.

(Academia Hellenistica)

Motto: Ευλόγησε μας, σοφία! (Greek; "Evlógise mas sofía", Bless us, Wisdom!)

Founded in 1632.

Maurician University, in Recife, Pernambuco.

(Universitas Mauriciensis)

Motto: Wir alle verblassen, aber Wissen macht each ewiges (German: We dispair, but knowledge makes us eternal)

Founded in 1640 by John Maurice of Nassau during the Dutch Invasions and expanded after the Last Flemish War.

Fluminense University, in Rio de Janeiro.

(Universitas Fluminensis)

Motto: Veritas. Supra omnes, veritas. (Latin: The truth. Above all, the truth.)

Founded in 1688.

University of Minas

(Universitas ex Fodinis Generalis)

Motto: Mentes jovens, novas ideias. (Portuguese: Young minds, new ideas)

Founded in 1723.

Other colonial universities

Although the Eight Houses are considered the great colonial universities in Brazil, they were not the only ones. At least nine other universities (not including the military institutions) were founded in Brazil during the colonial period which are not considered a part of the Eight Houses.

  • University of Quito (1586), Quito, Ecuador. Founded as the Universidad de San Fulgencio, it was merged in 1779 with the of the Universities Seminario de San Luis e San Gregorio Magno founded in 1651 by the Jesuits and San Tomás de Aquino, founded in 1681 by the Dominicans to form the University of Quito. After the Great Latin American War, Ecuador became a Brazilian territory.
  • University of Castranova (1697), in Konstantinov, Patagonia. At the time, the Konstantinov University was the only university in the Free Cities.
  • University of Laguna (1713), in Laguna, Santa Catarina. At the time, it was called Laguna's College and was more dedicated to religious higher education.
  • University of São Paulo (1743), in São Paulo. At the time, it was dedicated just to Law and Theology.
  • University of Amazonia (1783), in Bethelem, Pará. It was a women only university until 1842.
  • University of Goyáz (1792), in Pyrenopolis, Goyáz. At the time, it was to small and isolated to be cosidered one of the Eight Houses.
  • Brazilian Polytechnic Institute (1798), in Mayen,São Francisco.
  • University of Zenith (1801), in Zenith. At the time, Zenith was a COU 's colony.
  • Zakyntos Institute of Technology (1810), Zakynthos, Santa Sofia. It was founded by the Prince Regent João VI of Portugal.

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