The cultural and architectural complex of Old Goa is located 9 km from Panaji and is one of the main attractions of India. It was particularly influenced by Portuguese culture, which can be clearly seen in the architecture of temples and residential buildings. The Old City in Goa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History of Old Goa
His time of greatness is long gone. After being the capital of a Portuguese province, it gradually lost its importance. When the government moved to Panaji, it gradually fell into disrepair. The city was constantly haunted by disasters, with epidemics of terrible diseases being the main plague. In the 18th century it was decided to move the capital to a more prosperous place. The reason was another epidemic.
Old Goa was founded in the 15th century by the ruler of the Bijapur Sultanate. Adil Shah chose a place on the banks of the Mandovi and in his orders in a short time built fortress walls, watchtowers and buildings for economic purposes. Gradually the city became a center of trade and began to expand rapidly. In its heyday, the population exceeded that of London.
Part of the city’s history is closely tied to the missionary work of Francis Xavier.
He diligently spread the Christian faith throughout Asia, traveled extensively, and lived for a time in Goa. He was respected by the locals and his opinion was listened to. Most monasteries, churches, and temples were built during this period. They have been carefully restored and preserved as architectural monuments since their liberation from Portuguese rule in 1961.
Old Goa sights
Most of them are religious buildings. They bear the distinct imprint of the Portuguese colonization, have the characteristic features of European styles, making a bizarre mixture of several cultures. Old Goa is included in most sightseeing and comprehensive tours, enjoys special tourist attention. A visit there allows you to learn more about the history of the region and the rich heritage of the Portuguese colonial period.
Many temples were built in the 16th and 18th centuries. Most have been carefully restored and are active. Others house museums.
- The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria was nearly 90 years in the making and became the largest church in Asia. The first services began in 1563. It was designed to be framed by two towers. One of them collapsed in the 18th century. It was not reconstructed, and the temple has a slightly asymmetrical appearance. It is also famous for its five massive bells. Each of them has his own, unique voice. The largest of them is in the surviving tower, has a powerful pure sound and rightfully bears the title of “golden”. It is a pity that its ringing was not always used for good. During the Inquisition, he gathered people for public torture and execution.
- The Basilica of Jesus Merciful became the repository of the relics of Francis Xavier, who after his death was declared a saint. Its austere facades have no decorative elements, the architecture is a mix of Ionic, Doric and Corinthian styles. Marble and jasper were chosen to make the sacristy.
- The church and monastery of St. Augustine in Old Goa have not survived. The monastery complex consisted of two buildings, a guest house, a hospital, and outbuildings. Fragments of the wall, half of the tower and old tombstones of the ancient cemetery remain.
- The Church of Francis of Assisi in its present form appeared in 1661. The first building was demolished; the old foundation became the basis for the new structure. The doors are decorated with images of nautical globes and Greek crosses, which were the symbol of Portuguese ships. The interior rooms are decorated with floral ornaments and sculptural groups on biblical themes.
- The Church of St. John the Baptist. Caetana is opposite the Cathedral of Sts. It is considered one of the most beautiful in Old Goa. Its appearance echoes that of the Cathedral of Sts. St. Peter’s in Rome. The interior decoration is in the Baroque style with gilding, stucco, sculptures of angels and saints. That there was once a Hindu temple on the site of the church is reminded by the well under the square wooden platform.
- The Convent of St. Monica was formed as the only school for women. He was under the patronage of the monarch. In addition to Christ’s brides, it housed women whose husbands had been recalled to other parts of the country on government business. The church houses a miraculous crucifix and has a Theological Center, but tourists are not welcome and are not allowed free entrance to the territory.
- The Church of the Madonna on the Mount is also an example of 16th-century architecture. Strict proportions in combination with snow-white walls create a feeling of lightness. It is located on a hill, which offers a picturesque view of the surrounding area. The site is known for the historic confrontation between Adil Shah’s artillery and Portuguese troops, as the commemorative plaque informs.
Museums and historical monuments
In addition to religious buildings, Old Goa is famous for its other attractions.
Excursion programs include:
- the gates of Fort Mangweiral;
- Terreiro de Sabaio Square
- Vickeroy’s Arch.
The archbishop’s palace is well-preserved; it is one of the examples of “golden age” architecture and is the only secular building of the era.
The Museum of Christian Art is located in one of the buildings that belonged to the monastery of St. Monica. The architecture is interesting, preserving its original appearance, the terracotta plaster and the arched ceilings typical of the time. The exhibits are not many, but near each is attached an information plate with explanations.
In the archaeological museum there are samples of ancient weapons, sculptures, household items, portraits of the time of the Portuguese colonization. The museum has eight galleries, with exhibits covering different historical periods, including artifacts and samples of dishes from ancient eras.
If you want to decorate your home in ethnic style or just bring a few quality items made in the national traditions, it is worth looking into the large shopping center Habitat. It is on the way to the temples of Old Goa. Most of the items are the work of the best masters of India.
The location of trade pavilions is traditional. On the first floor are for sale fabrics, clothing, furnishings, dishes, spices. For jewelry is allocated gallery 3 floors.
How to get to Old Goa in India
The city is interesting from a historical point of view, but it is not worth staying for a few days. A field trip to the temples and museums, to admire the surroundings is quite enough. For guests who decide to stay overnight, runs a guest house Old Goa Residency, where room rates start from 850 rubles and hotel The Fern Kadamba And Spa, where the level of comfort is much higher, as well as prices.
It is much more convenient to arrive early in the morning and spend the day looking at the monuments and then go back to Panaji in the evening.
Old Goa on the map is located almost next to the new state capital.
There are several ways to reach it from Panaji.
- Reliability and comfort is inherent in traveling as part of a tour group. No need to worry about transportation, but you can forget about the freedom of choice of route and the ability to dispose of personal time.
- Riding a moped on your own is fraught with the risk of encountering local policemen, getting caught in a convoy of long trucks and dragging along the road at a snail’s pace. But you can choose any route, the order of sightseeing, or even go back if it was not interesting.
- It is fun and safe to ride the bus, just need to clarify the fare and the stop to get off, as there are few signs on Indian roads and you can go much farther than planned.
- When you take a cab, you need to carefully stipulate all the details and the final cost of the service.
Video review of Old Goa
Old Goa preserves the memory of its former greatness, the Portuguese colonization and the history of the development of Christianity on the territory of India in the outlines of temples and museum exhibits.