Velha Goa (Old Goa)

1 - Velha Goa

Sé Catedral de Santa Catarina, also known as the Se Cathedral (completed in 1619).

In the heyday of Velha Goa, one would have arrived by barge up the Mandovi River, docking to the north of the city proper, and arriving into Old Goa by way of the ancient Viceroy’s Arch.

Today, it is far easier and no less atmospheric, to arrive by bus, right into the heart of the city. The journey from Panjim is short – just under an hour – and one is thrust into the midst of everyday Goans, going about their business.

Old Goa was founded in 1510 by the Portuguese, upon an earlier port city that had existed here during the Bijapur Sultanate. It was the capital of the Estado da Índia until the 18th century, when the entire populace was forced, by an outbreak of plague to move to Panjim.

For as long as it was the heart of the Portuguese Overseas Empire, Old Goa was also known as the “Rome of the East”, due to its being essentially the heart of Roman Catholicism and Catholic missionary activity in Asia.  Certainly, before the city’s decline, it would have been a splendid sight to see, with its monumental ecclesiastical edifices and its opulent villas and residences.

All this sumptuousness also belied a violence and cruelty. The Inquisition came to these shores by way of Old Goa. For almost 200 years, the Roman Catholic Church persecuted Indian Hindus here, destroying Hindu temples, banning Hindu feasts, arresting thousands of individuals and even resorting to burning some at the stake. Indian Muslims, and Sephardic Jews who had fled here from Spain were also persecuted.

None of the brutal excesses of history remain today in this magnificent ghost town of a city, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.  While many of the churches still have healthy congregations, the entire city as a whole is more tourist destination than living, breathing city.

This gallery takes in the key sites and monuments.

2 - St Catherines Chapel

The Chapel of St Catherine was established by Afonso de Albuquerque to commemorate his capture of the city on St Catherine’s day. It was apparently rebuilt in 1952. The church itself is simple, unimposing and unadorned.

3 - St Francis of Assisi

Igreja de São Francisco de Assis – the Church of St Francis of Assisi was built in 1661 and is one of the highlights of any visit to Old Goa.

4 - Closeup Assisi

The facade of the church has three tiers with octagonal towers on each side. At the top and centre there is a statue of St Michael.

5 - St Francis of Assisi Interior

The interior of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is staggeringly beautiful. This is a view of the main altar – note the statue of St Francis of Assisi and Jesus on the cross at the top. To the sides are painted panels that depict the life of St Francis of Assisi.

6 - The Museum

The back view of Se Cathedral, which stands just behind the Church of St Francis of Assisi.

7 - Se Cathedral

Se Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. It’s facade is built in a Tuscan style. It once had two bell towers, but the other collapsed in 1776 and was never rebuilt.

8 - Se Cathedral Interior

The spectacular main altar of Se Cathedral is dedicated to St Catherine and depicts the martyrdom of the Saint.

9 - Jesus

A statue of Jesus Christ stands in the courtyard facing the Cathedral.

10 - Viceroys Arch Back

Just around the corner is the Viceroy’s Arch, erected in 1599 by the grandson of Vasco da Gama. Part of it had collapsed in the passing of the years but it was completely restored in 1954. This is the back side of the arch – the statue depicts

11 - Viceroys Arch front

The front of the Viceroy’s Arch holds a statue of Vasco da Gama himself.

12 - Viceroys Arch middle

View of a plaque in the arch which commemorates Portugal’s independence from Spain in 1640.

13 - Approaching St Cajetan

Approaching Old Goa from the Viceroy’s Arch, the first church one would have seen was the Igreja de São Caetano, or Church of Saint Cajetan, built in 1661 and modeled after St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

14 - St Cajetan

The facade boasts Corinthian columns and pilasters, and the building itself boasts a splendid dome, which can’t be seen in this view.

15 - Cloisters

The Church cloisters.

16 - Monk

Statue of a monk on the church grounds.

17 - S Cajetan grounds

Another view of the delightful church grounds.

18 - Interior S Cajetan

The exquisite main altar, dating to the 1700s, is dedicated to Our Lady of Providence.

19 - Basilica of Bom Jesu

The undisputed main draw in Old Goa is the Basílica do Bom Jesus, or the Basilica of the Infant Jesus. Consecrated in 1604, the Baroque facade is three tiered.

20 - Close up IHS

“IHS” – the symbol of the Jesuit order – are the initials of “Jesus” in Greek,

21- St Francis Xavier

The Basilica is best known for holding the sacred remains of St Francis Xavier, who led extensive missionary work in Asia in the 1500s. He died in China, had his remains held in Malacca for a few months, before those remains were finally deposited here in Old Goa, where they remained ever since.

22 - Tower of the Church of St Augustine

The Tower of the Ruined Church of St Augustine is 46 metres and five storeys high. The church was built in 1602 by the St Augustinians. The main body collapsed in 1842 and most of the rest of the church followed by 1938.

23 - Ruins of S Augustine

The Ruins of the Augustinian Church.

24 - Convent of S John

The Convent and Church of Saint John was built in the late 17th century.

34 - Crossroads

View from the Convent and Church of Saint John towards the ruins of the Augustinian Church and the former Convent of Santa Monica.

25 - Institute Mater Dei Santa Monica

The historical Santa Monica Convent is home to the Institute Mater Dei.

26 - Closeup Institute

Close-up of the front entrance to the former Convent of Santa Monica.

27 - Christian Art Museum

Nearby sits the Museum of Christian Art, also occupying the grounds of the former Convent of Santa Monica.

28 - Museum Interior

Interior of the museum.

29 - S Anthonys Chapel

The Chapel of Saint Anthony is one of the earliest-built churches in Goa.

30 - Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is the oldest still-standing church in Goa, built in the 1540s in the Gothic and Manueline style.

31 - Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

The interior of the Church – View towards the main altar.

32 - Front of Church

The front facade of the church commands a spectacular view of the Mandovi River.

33 - View from Church of River

Here is the spectacular view of the river from the front of the church.

35 - Church of Our Lady of the Mount

The Chapel of our Lady of the Mount sits atop the Monte, near the Church of San Cajetan. It is the final stop on this tour of Velha Goa.

36 - Interior of Church Mount

The Chapel was also originally built in 1510 by Afonso Albuquerque, though it has been later renovated and restored.

37 - Backward Glance at Velha Goa

A backward glance at Velha Goa…the Church of St Francis of Assisi.

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Culture & Lifestyle, Heritage, India, Landmarks & History, Photography, Sociology & Urban Studies, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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