Old Goa, also known as Velha Goa(Velha means old in Portuguese) is recognized as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Situated on the banks of the river Mandovi, the city was founded by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century. The rulers surrounded the city with moats and built grand palaces and mosques within.

History:

The Portuguese arrived in the 16th century, invaded the place and ruled over it from 1510 until later years of 18th century.

An epidemic took over the city in the 17th century due to which people vacated the town leaving a population of just 1500 in 1775. This resulted in shifting the Portuguese headquarters from Velha Goa to present day Panjim which was earlier known as Nova Goa(Nova stands for New in Portuguese). Panaji remains the capital of Goa State even today.

Pin Old Goa to your Travel Map:

Old Goa is just a 9 km ride from Panjim. You can take a bus or shuttle service if you are going from Margao or Vasco which will drop you at the Panjim bus station. From Panjim, you can get autos or cab to Old Goa.

Sight-seeing in Old Goa:

Old Goa is famous for the centuries-old architectural beauty captured in form of Churches. Here is a list Churches you must visit while in Goa.

Basilica of Bom Jesus:

Basilica of Bom Jesus.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

The construction of this Chruch started in 1594 and it was consecrated in the year 1605 by the archbishop, Dom Father Aleixo de Menezes. This church is famous as it contains the body of St. Francis Xavier. The remains are preserved in a decorated casket made of silver just behind the altar. An exhibition is held every 10 years to revere the Saint’s body.

This church which is more than 400 years old is an exquisite example of the Baroque architectural style. The floor of the church is laid down in marble and decorated with precious stones. The interior of the church is simple apart from the gilded altar. Visit this church and lose yourself in the history for a while.

Church Timing: Open throughout the week from 9:00 am – 6:30 pm

Fees: There is no Entry fee.

Sé Cathedral de Santa Catarina:

Se cathedral Church old Goa

Se cathedral Church old Goa, Photo : Ameer Desai‎

This church is most widely known as Sé Cathedral. The church was built to mark the victory of Afonso de Albuquerque over the Muslim troops which was followed by Portuguese rule in Goa. This happened on the day of the feast of Saint Catherine and hence it was dedicated to honor her. The construction of the church started in 1562 and was consecrated in 1640. The church was constructed following the Portuguese-Manueline style with Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. Venerable Pope Pius XII gifted a Golden Rose to the church which is now placed on the casket of Saint Francis Xavier.

A heads-up for the tourists, please dress decently to maintain the decorum of church.

Church Timing: Open throughout the week from 7:00 am – 6:30 pm

Fees: There is no Entry fee.

Church of St. Francis of Assisi:

St. Francis of Assisi church, Goa

St. Francis of Assisi church, Goa

This church was built by eight Franciscan friars in the year 1517. The church is situated on the west side of Sé Cathedral. The original structure of the church was rebuilt keeping the entrance door intact. With the Tuscan exterior that shows its simplicity and the interior in Baroque coupled with Corinthian style, the church is a beautiful fusion of various architectural styles. The gilded interior of the church is decorated with paintings from life events of Saint Francis Xavier. The convent which is a part of this church is now used as a museum.

Church Timing: Open throughout the week except for Sunday from 7:30 am – 6:30 pm

Fees: There is no Entry fee.

St. Augustine’s Tower:

St. Augustine Tower, Old Goa.

St. Augustine Tower, Old Goa.

The complex of this church now stands in ruins. The church was constructed on top of the Monte Santo by Augustinian friars. There were total four towers in the original church but due to the neglect by the Portuguese, only one of them is standing till date. The original church consisted of eight chapels, four altars and a convent. The bell of this church has been moved to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim after the collapse of the structure. This last church tower which is 46 m tall, is among one of the largest buildings in Old Goa.

Church Timing: Open from Monday – Friday from 6:00 am – 12:45 pm and 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Fees: There is no Entry fee.

The Archaeological Museum:

Archaeological museum. Old goa.

Archaeological museum. Old goa.

The museum which is housed in the convent section of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi contains the glory of the pre-historic, historic and late Medieval periods of Goan history. There are eight galleries which contain the portraits of the Portuguese Governor and Viceroys and various wooden structures, weapons and stamps. The museum was established in 1964 and is one of the main attractions in Old Goa which should be on your list.

Apart from these famous churches, there are several other lesser known places in Old Goa which one ought to see to marvel at the history it contains.

Timing: Open throughout the week except on Friday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Fees: 5 Rs. per person.

Church of Saint Cajetan:

Church of Saint Cajetan

Church of Saint Cajetan, Photo: Deepak Subramony

The church is built in the same style as the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and its construction was completed in 1661. With seven altars and a Corinthian style architecture, the ground of this church contains the remains of the doorway which formed the entrance of Adil Shah’s palace.

Church Timing: Open throughout the week from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Fees: There is no Entry fee.

Church of Our Lady of the Mount:

This is the best place to get a top view of Old Goa and the sun going down the horizon. Usually, the church is closed as it does not have many visitors due to the fact that one has to climb up to reach there but you can see it during December when it’s feast time in honor of Saint Francis Xavier and during the Monte Music Festival which is held in February.

Viceroy’s Arch:

The arch was built by Vasco da Gama’s grandson, Francisco da Gama and the side facing the river Mandovi contains the deer emblem of the coat of arms of Vasco da Gama and the center contains the statue of Vasco da Gama. The other side is decorated with the statue of a European Lady who has a sword in her hand and an Indian lying by the side of her leg. The original arch contained a third storey as well and the statue of St. Catherine.

The Gate of the Palace of Adil Shah:

Gate of The palace Adil shah OLD GOA

Gate of The palace Adil shah OLD GOA. Photo: Alvesh Fernandes

Located to the North of the Church of St. Cajetan, this structure which was the entrance to the royal palace reminds of the glorious period of Adil Shah before this area was invaded by Portuguese. The Portuguese stayed in this palace till 1965 but soon abandoned it as the structure was collapsing. This 3 m high gate is an example of the Brahminical architecture style and is made of basalt. The government ordered its demolition in 1820.

How to Reach Old Goa ?

You can use the various modes of transportation to reach Old Goa Churches. Here are a few ways to reach there:

  • Rail Route: Basilica of Bom Jesus is situated at a distance of 2.1 km from the Karmali Railway station and you can take an auto or cab from station to the church.
  • Road Route: You can reach from your location in Goa to Panjim Bus Station by bus, cabs or autos and from there you can take another auto or cab to the churches.
  • Bike Rental: You can also drive down to Old Goa on your own(rented) vehicle to feel the true essence of traveling in Goa.
  • Air Route: If you are traveling by air, you will land at the Dabolim Airport and from here, your ride to the Old Goa is around 24 km and you can reach there through the above-mentioned ways of transportation through road.

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