Old Goa, also known as Velha Goa, is a historic city in the Indian state of Goa. It was the capital of Portuguese India from the 16th to the 18th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich cultural and architectural heritage. Old Goa is home to numerous churches, cathedrals, and other historical structures that reflect the colonial influence and religious fervor of the time. Here are some of the prominent attractions in Old Goa:
- Basilica of Bom Jesus: One of the most famous churches in Goa, this basilica houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The baroque architecture, gilded altars, and exquisite interiors make it a significant religious and architectural landmark.
- Se Cathedral: Known as the Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, this grand cathedral is one of the largest churches in Asia. It is dedicated to St. Catherine and features a magnificent façade, a golden bell, and intricately carved altars.
- St. Cajetan’s Church: Modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, this church has a unique circular dome and Corinthian-style architecture. It is dedicated to St. Cajetan, an Italian saint and founder of the Theatine order.
- Archaeological Museum: Housed in the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, this museum showcases a collection of artifacts including sculptures, paintings, and items of religious significance.
- Church of St. Augustine: What remains of this church is the iconic tower, often referred to as the “Augustine Tower.” The rest of the church collapsed over time due to neglect and natural elements.
- Museum of Christian Art: Situated within the Convent of Santa Monica, this museum displays a rich collection of Christian art, including paintings, sculptures, and textiles.
- Convent and Church of St. Cajetan: This church is modeled after the original design of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is characterized by its elegant architecture and serene surroundings.
- Ruins of the Church of St. Augustine: These ruins comprise the belfry and façade of the once-magnificent church. The belfry is a famous landmark of Old Goa.
- Viceroy’s Arch: This arch marks the entrance to Old Goa and was built to commemorate the victory of Afonso de Albuquerque, the Portuguese general, over the Bijapur Sultanate.
Old Goa is a treasure trove of history, architecture, and spirituality. Walking through its cobblestone streets and exploring its centuries-old churches and cathedrals gives visitors a glimpse into the region’s colonial past and religious heritage. It’s a place where history comes alive, offering a unique blend of cultural enrichment and awe-inspiring architecture.