People from all over the world visit Goa year-round. Most of them visit Goa for the rave parties, beaches and cheap booze the place has to offer. Not that these things are unattractive (cheap booze…yay) but Goa is not all about partying. There is much more to the place and you will only realize that if you take the path less traveled. Old Goa also known as Velha Goa, is a place away from the party zone, tucked away inland beside the Mandovi River.
This place grew and thrived during the Portuguese Conquest in India back in the 16th century which gave it the name as ‘The Rome of the Orient’. When the Portuguese left India, the place lost its grandeur and now what remains is a dozen magnificent churches surrounded by swathes of green. The churches are considered as some of the largest ones in India and this place has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Ever since then Old Goa has been gaining popularity and is losing the quaint and untouched feel it had earlier. Well the authorities are doing a good job preserving the churches and its surroundings. Reaching Old Goa is very easy as there are many buses you can get from Panjim or you can also rent a bike. The place will only take one day off your itinerary. Even though I did not visit all the places here, thanks to the rains, I will be listing out all the places you need to visit if you get here. This post is more like a reminder for me which says “Hey mate, we are not done with this place yet”. I will strike all these places off my list on my next visit.
I took a ferry across the Mandovi River from Divar island. This the gateway through which I entered Old Goa after getting off the ferry at the pier. This is probably the best way to enter the historic place just like they used to do back then in the 16th century, A Gateway for a reason. This was built by Fransesco De Gama, Vasco De Gama’s son. The Statue that you see on the top is that of Vasco De Gama. There is a statue of St. Catherine on the other side. Welcome to Old Goa !!
Convent of St. Catejan
As you pass through the Arch, the first building you see on your left is the Convent of St. Catejan. This the place where I took shelter from the heavy rain. Still managed to click a few pics in the rain. It was built by the Italian friars of the Order of Theatines. While the altar is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence, the church is named after the founder of the Theatine order, St. Cajetan, a contemporary of St Francis Xavier. You can anyway find all this info engraved on Marble stones all around the place. This place is really massive. It was too dark inside so could not get many pics but the ambiance was great inside with the hallway lined with colored glass windows.
Basilica of Bom Jesus and Professed House of the Jesuits
This is one massive church and the most popular one of the lot. It is partially in ruins but it still stands tall and is great example of the Jesuit architecture. You will find a warning sign in every church in Old Goa that will say that you can take pics of the artifacts inside the church but not with people posing with them. That actually makes a lot of sense. Posing with the artifacts makes it lose its significance with all those goofy faces around it.
This is the biggest church not only in Old Goa but in the whole of Asia. This was my last stop in Old Goa before the Rain Gods cut short my exploration. This is one massive church in sheer size and also in the area it covers. It has lush green gardens around it which added to the beauty. The Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510 Alfonso Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and took possession of the city of Goa. Hence it is also known as St. Catherine’s’ Cathedral. So that is were I get off. The rest of the places in the list are the ones I have yet to visit.
The Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi
This one lies to the west of Se Cathedral. It was built by eight Portuguese Franscians Friars along with a convent. The convent which forms the annexure to the church now houses a museum that was set up by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964.
Chapel of St. Catherine
This chapel stands in the same Grounds as Se Cathedral and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. This chapel marked the rise of Catholicism not only in Goa but also in many countries across East Asia. This Chapel was earlier constructed by Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese Conqueror to mark his entry into the city, It was later rebuilt when it was given the Cathedral status.
Museum of Christian Art
The Museum of Christian Art, tucked away from the chaos at the Church of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, is a beautiful, compact well-curated space. The objects are well displayed within the heritage structure and reflect the story of indigenisation of Christianity, particularly in visual characteristics. This church holds a fascinating collection of Indo-Portuguese items.
Church of the Cross of Miracles
This church is situated on the southern outskirts of Old Goa on top of a hill which gives a good view of the city. Church of Cross of Miracles is one of the holy shrines nestled in Goa. The church is known for its architecture, even though it is now completely in ruins. Historians and travelers from varied distant places visit this church to learn about its architecture.
Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount
This church is isolated from the rest of the churches in Old Goa. It attracts comparatively less crowd and boasts of a great scenic view. Covered with greenery it’s one of the oldest churches in old Goa with a beautiful architecture. It is best known for its location atop a hill which is one of the best spots to catch a beautiful sunset.
Now having collected info for this list, I realize that I am only half done with Old Goa. So will be covering these places on my next visit. If anyone knows any more places that can be added to the list, let me know in the comment section.