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Location: 10 kms east of Panaji.
Attractions : Se Cathedral, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapel of St. Catherine, The Professed House and Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of St. Cajetan, Viceroy's Arch, Church of St. Monica etc.
Best Time To Visit : October to May.
Introducing Old Goa
Gently swaying palms, stretches of golden sand and the bright sun - this is what lures tourists like you to Goa and as such very few of you venture beyond the beaches. However, in reality, the beauty of Goa lies not only in its sun, sea and sand, but also in its glorious historical and cultural heritage. This heritage is very much evident for you to see in the sleepy town of Old Goa.
Also known as Velha Goa, Old Goa lies 10 kms to the east of Panaji, the capital of the state of Goa. Walking down the history lanes, you will discover that Old Goa was founded by Adil Shah and it reached the pinnacle of fame and glory during the Portuguese reign. The Portuguese explorer Alfonso de Albuquere captured Goa in 1510 and made Old Goa the centre of power of the Portuguese colonies. Later, in the year 1843, the town was abandoned by the Portuguese when the capital of Goa was shifted to Panaji.
Today, Old Goa with its exquisite group of churches, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The churches and other structures of Old Goa provide you a glimpse of a bygone era and give an idea of what this place must have been like in those times. So, do take a drive through the interiors of Old Goa and experience its unique cultural heritage.
How to Reach
By Air : Nearest airport is at Dabolim which is 32 kms from Panaji. The airport is connected with Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore by flights of Indian Airlines flights and the private carriers.
By Train : Vasco-da-Gama is the nearest railway station which is 35 kms from Panaji. The Konkan railways makes Goa easily accessible by rail from major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Mangalore as well as other cities of India.
By Bus : Old Goa lies on the National Highway 4 A and is easily accessible from Panaji and other important places of Goa. Luxury and ordinary buses are available from all the major towns of Goa.
By Sea : Catamaran Service is available from Mumbai to Panaji from October to April.
Places Where You Can Stay
Accommodation is not available for tourists at Old Goa, you have to stay in Panaji which has good western style hotels and restaurants.
Deluxe Hotels : Goa Marriott Resort (Miramar, Panaji),
3 Star Hotel : Hotel Mandovi (D.B. Bandodkar Marg, Panaji),
2 Star Hotel : Hotel Nova Goa (Panaji), Hotel Solmar (Panaji), Panjim Inn (Panaji).
Tourist Attractions in Old Goa
Se Cathedral : One of the largest churches in Goa, the Se Cathedral church remained under construction for nearly three-fourths of a century. The construction was begun in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao, the main body of the church was completed in 1619 and the altars in 1652. The Cathedral was built by the Portuguese government for the Dominicans from out of the proceeds of the sale of the Crown's property. Architecturally, Portuguese-Gothic in style, the exterior of the church is Tuscan and the interior is Corinthian. Originally there were two towers, one of which on the southern side collapsed in 1776. The existing tower boasts of the 'Golden Bell', the largest bell in Goa. The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine and walls on either side are painted with scenes from her life.
Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi : Built for the Franciscan friars in 1521 and reconstructed in 1661, the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most interesting buildings in Old Goa. The structure is built of laterite blocks and is lime-plastered. The building has gilded and carved woodwork and old murals which depict scenes from the life of St. Francis. The exterior of the Church is in the Tuscan style while the main entrance is in the Manuline style. The Convent which forms an annexure to the Church was converted to an Archaeological Museum in 1964. The museum has a rich collection of portraits of the Portuguese viceroys and governors of Goa. Other interesting collections are fragments of sculpture from Hindu sites, statue of Albuquerque, a model of Vaso-da-Gama's, Sao Gabriel and the bronze statue of St. Catherine.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary : The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is located uphill to the south of the Basilica of the Born Jesus. Built of laterite and plastered with lime mortar, the church has a double-storeyed portico. The portico as well as the facade of the church have rounded towers on either side. The roof is tiled and supported by wooden rafter. The Church has two chapels and three altars.
The Professed House and Basilica of Bom Jesus : The Basilica of Bom Jesus represents the rich and varied heritage of Goa. The church of Bom Jesus is famous throughout the Roman Catholic world as it contains the tomb and mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who was given the task of spreading Christianity in 1541 among the people of the Portuguese colonies in the east. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is also a laterite structure. Initially its exterior was lime plastered however, it was subsequently removed. The church was built on the cruciform plan and the roof was originally tiled. The flying butterflies on the northern side of the church are the latest additions.
Immediately to the south of the main road is the Professed House, which is a two-storeyed laterite building covered with lime plaster. Despite much opposition from the Jesuits the building was completed in 1585. A part of the Professed House was burnt down in 1663 and was rebuilt in 1783.
Church of St. Cajetan : Opposite the Se Cathedral, beyond the road is the beautiful Church of St. Cajetan. The Italian friars of the Order of Thetaine (1656-1700) built this diminutive domed church on the lines of St. Peter's Church in Rome. The church is architecturally Corinthian both externally and internally, while the glided altars are in baroque style. In keeping with the general rule of Theatian order, the church has no separate towers but turrets.
Chapel of St. Catherine: Chapel of St. Catherine is located to the south of Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Se Cathedral. Alfonso de Albuquerque built the original mud structure in 1510 and a stone chapel replaced the thatched structure a few years later. A new altar was installed in the year 1550. Built of laterite block, the chapel has a tower on either side of the facade. A semicircular niche above the window has an image of St. Catherine. In 1951, the chapel was restored with the help of Portuguese architect Baltazar de Castro.
Viceroy's Arch : The main road in front of the Church of St. Cajetan leads to the Mandovi river through an archway known as Viceroy's Arch. The original structure was built by the Portuguese Governor, Francisco da Gama in 1599 and was completely rebuilt in 1954. Viceroy's Arch is made entirely of laterite except the facade on the river side which is facetted with greenish granite. The facade has a niche at the top with a statue of Vasco da Gama, correspondingly in the rear is a statue of the Argonaut. There are two inscribed slabs alongside the walls of the arch.
The Gate of the Palace of Yusuf Adil Shah : The Gate of the Palace of Adil Shah is a gateway of basalt pillars and consists of a horizontal lintel resting on pillars decorated with mouldings. The Palace of Adil Shah was residence of the Portuguese Governors till 1695 and was afterwards used by them on festive occasions. The dilapidated building was demolished in 1820 for constructions of houses and only the gate remained. The architecture of the gate is purely Brahmanical is style and it suggests Indo-Muslim influences.
Tower of Church of St. Augustine : The Church was built in 1602 for the Augustinian friars who arrived in Goa in 1587. Due to religious suppression in 1835, the Augustinians deserted the church and monastery. The vault collapsed in 1842 followed by the facade and half of the tower in 1931. Some more parts of the church collapsed in 1938. The church was dedicated to Our Lady of Grace, and all that's left to see today is the belfry of the tower that is nearly 46 m high.
Royal Chapel of St. Anthony : The Royal Chapel is dedicated to the St. Anthony, the national saint of Portugal. It was built in the year 1543 but was closed in 1835. It re-opened in 1894 when it is was renovated. The chapel is semicircular in shape and it has an unusually styled facade, not based on any architectural style.
Convent and Church of St. Monica : Just before the Church of Our Lady the Rosary on Holy Hill is the Church and Convent of St. Monica. The construction of the Church and Convent was commenced in 1606 and completed in 1627. This royal monastery is a huge three-storeyed building of laterite which was originally lime-plastered and is now plastered with cement. The church in the monastery is dedicated to St. Mary.
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