Mary Ann Issac
Exploring Old Goa
Old Goa is also known as Velha Goa and is the historical city that was once the capital of the Portuguese in India from then 16th to 18th century. It was during the plague that Old Goa was abandoned, and the government headquarters was moved to Fontainhas area in Panjim.
To know more about the colourful streets of Fontainhas, click here!
Old Goa with all its heritage buildings and beautiful churches is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Old Goa was founded in the 15th century by the Bijapur Sultanate, and was captured by the Portuguese in 1510.
There are many options for tours to take around Old Goa, but I feel it is unnecessary, you can explore Old Goa yourself on foot, or if you have a vehicle.
Once you reach Old Goa, everything is within walking distance. There are many vendors selling snacks and refreshments on the street.
The following are the main points of interest here.
1. Church of St. Francis of Assissi
The church and the convent of St. Francis of Assissi were established by 8 Portuguese Franciscan Friars who landed in Goa in 1517. The chapel was modified into a church in 1521, and in 1616, the church was pulled down and the one that stands there today, was constructed.
The church is open for visitors, and a part of it is used as the Archaeological museum.
2. Archaeological Museum
Located behind the Church and convent of St. Francis of Assissi. It contains artefacts from Portuguese Goa, religious artefacts, photographs, & paintings.
3. The Basilica of Bom Jesus
It is a functioning Roman Catholic Church, that holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The Portuguese- Baroque architecture is beautiful, and there aren’t many like this. It is on the list of 7 Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.
4. Se Cathedral
Se Cathedral de Santa Catarina is a short walk away from the above mentioned churches, and here, visitors are requested to dress appropriately ( no shorts, short skirts, sleeveless clothing), and once you enter, you have to maintain strict silence. There is a security guard and sometimes even a church worker to enforce this.
5. St. Cajettan’s Church
St. Cajetan was a contemporary of St. Francis Xavier, and the founder of the order of monks called Theatines. It was built by the Italian monks of the Order of the Theatines in 1665.
Its Corinthian style architecture is said to have similarities to St.Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican ( like its dome). There are statues of St. Peter, St.Paul, St.Mathew, & St. Mathew in the facade. Paintings of the life of St. Cajetan are on the walls of the church.
Within the compound of the church is an arch with pillars that have Hindu carvings, considered older than the church. It is the only remains of the Palace of Adil Shah, who was the Sultan of Bijapur.
6. Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount
The church was built at the point where Adil Shah positioned his artillery against the Portuguese. When the Portuguese defeated Adil Shah, they built a church to commemorate the incident in 1519, and has been rebuilt twice since.
7. Monte Music Festival
The Music festival conducted on the premises of the church is organised by the Fundacao Oriente in association with the Kala Academy. This is a festival that aims to integrate western & Indian classical music and is held annually in the month of February.
There are many more churches around the area which you can visit if you have the time, but the above is all I saw. I had had my fill of architecture and museums for the day.