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About Old Goa

Old Goa, also known as Velha Goa (‘Velha’ is ‘old’ in Portuguese) lies 10 km east of Panaji, along the Mandovi river. This township built in the 15th century was the famous capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century to the 18th century when it was completely abandoned due to a plague that infested the place. Today only a few churches and convents remain, but these still retain their splendor and aura and are a must-visit when in Goa. This area has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the glorious churches in Old Goa are: Se Cathedral (the seat of the Archbishop of Goa): The tower here is famed for its mammoth bell - called the 'Golden Bell' due to its rich tone. This is the largest bell in Goa and believed to be one of the best in the world. Church of St. Francis of Assisi: West of Se Cathedral lies the former palace of the Archbishop, which is built of laterite blocks and lime-plastered. It connects to the Church of St Francis of Assisi and the convent, which now houses the Archaeological Museum. St. Cajetan: This large and beautiful Church is near the ruins of the Viceregal Palace. This church is architecturally Corinthian with gilded altars that have rich carvings in Baroque style. The building is made of laterite blocks which are lime plastered. Basilica of Bom Jesus: Contains the relics of Saint Francis Xavier. The church is a brilliant example of baroque architecture in India. It has an ornamental exterior and gold gilded altars.

Historical Context: Old Goa was the capital of Bahmani Sultan Adil Shah even when the Portuguese arrived there in 1510. After the Portuguese conquest, Old Goa (then known as Ela) became the glittering capital of gold and glamour of the Portuguese empire. At its peak it was called the “Rome of the Orient” and had a population of over 2 lakh within its 7 kms radius, and found comparison with the cities of London and Lisbon. It was known world over for its trade volume and wealth, and was lined with churches, mosques, markets, and even palaces. However the city was hit by three plagues over the century and finally in 1759 the capital was shifted to Panaji. The old city was completely abandoned and pulled down, except for its churches. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Pro Tip: You are expected to be adequately clad when entering the churches and to maintain decorum. Photography is allowed. But not posing in front of the altar.

Highlights

  • Best Time to Visit Morning, Night
  • Facilities Washrooms
  • Recommended Hours Min. 3 hours
  • Best Visited With Group, Solo, Family
  • Allowed Footwear, Camera

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