Old Goa

Goa Velha is a census town in North Goa district in the Indian state of Goa. It should not be mixed with Velha Goa, which is also known in konkani or Old Goa.The city was founded in the 15th century as a port for the Vijayanagar and Bahamani kings. Old Goa was the second capital of Bijapur under the rule of Adil Shah. It was surrounded by a moat and contained the Shah's palace, and his mosques and temples.


Se Cathedral: Construction of the Se de Santa Catarina, the largest church in Old Goa, began in 1562 and though the building was completed by 1619, the altars were not finished until 1652. The building’s style is Portuguese-Gothic with a Tuscan exterior and Corinthian interior. The remaining tower houses a famous bell, often called the Golden Bell because of its rich sound. The main altar is dedicated to St Catherine of Se Cathedral, Goa. Alexandria, and paintings on either side of it depict scenes from her life and martyrdom.

Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary Manueline: The Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary belongs to the earliest period of church building and is described as Manueline. At the time of the conquest of Goa, Portugal was enjoying a period of prosperity under King Manuel (1495-1521), hence the church is known as the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary Manueline. The architectural style that evolved borrowed from Iberian decoration, but also included many local naturalistic motifs as well as Islamic elements, seen on the marble cenotaph owing to the Hindu and Muslim craftsmen employed. The church here has a two storey entrance, a single tower and low flanking turrets. From this site Albuquerque directed the battle against the Adil Shahi forces in 1510.

Royal Chapel of St. Anthony: St. Anthony was the national saint of Portugal. The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony was restored by the Portuguese Government in 1961.

Church Of St. Augustine:The Church Of St. Augustine is now in ruins, except the enormous 46 m tower that served as a belfry and formed part of the façade. The church, which once boasted eight chapels, and convent was constructed in 1602 by Augustinian friars, but abandoned in 1835 due to repressive policies of the Portuguese government, which resulted in the eviction of many religious orders from Goa. The church vault was collapsed in 1842 burying the image, followed by the façade and main tower in 1931.

Church and Convent Of St. Monica:The Convent of St. Monica is the biggest church in East Asia. This huge square laterite building is three storeys high and was built around a sunken central courtyard which contained a formal garden. The construction of this building was completed in 1627, only to burn down nine years later. Reconstruction started the following year, and it’s from this time that the buildings date. The church is in the southern part of the building. At one time it enjoyed the status of Royal Monastery, now it is the Mater Dei Institute for Nuns founded in 1964 for theological studies. Within the convent, the excellent Museum of Christina Art contains statuary, paintings and sculptures transferred here from the Rachol Seminary. Many of the works Goan Christina art during the Portuguese era were produced by local Hindu artists.

The Basilica of Bom (the Good) Jesus:The world famous church or Basilica of Bom Jesus contains the tomb and mortal remains of body of St. Francis Xavier, a former pupil of the soldier turned saint, Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Order of Jesuits. In 1541, St. Francis Xavier, was given the task of spreading Christianity among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies in the East. St Francis Xavier embarked on missionary voyages that became legendary and, considering the state of transport at the time, were nothing short of miraculous. This basilica is famous throughout the Roman Catholic world. The focus of the church is the three-tired marble tomb of St Francis. His remains are housed in a silver casket, which at one time was covered in jewels. The Jesuits began work on the their own church in 1594. By 1605 it was finished and consecrated. In 1613 the body of St Francis wasbrought there from the College of St Paul. It was moved into the church in 1624 and its present chapel in 1655 where it has remained ever since. St Francis was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 and in 1964 Pope Pius XII raised the church to a minor basilica. The order of Jesuits was suppressed in 1759 and its property confiscated by the state. Part of the right hand was sent to Japan in 1619.

The house for Jesuit fathers:Next to the church connected with it is the house for Jesuit fathers, a handsome two storey building with a typically Mediterranean open courtyard garden. It is also built of plaster-coated laterite, and was built in 1589 despite much local opposition to the Jesuits. There was a fire in 1633 and it was only partially rebuilt. It now houses a few Jesuit fathers who run a small college. There is a modern art gallery next to the church

The Inquisition in Goa: In the Palace of the Inquisition, is the splendid hall that once existed, and where over 16,000 cases were heard between 1561 and 1774. The Inquisition was finally suppressed in 1814. Beneath the hall were dungeons.  

 Convent & Church of St Francis of Assisi:The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most interesting buildings in Old Goa. The Church and Convent of St Francis of Assisi is a broad vault of a church with two octagonal towers, beautifully lit by the sun. The church interior contains gilded and carved woodwork, and a floor made of carved gravestones – complete with family coast of arms dating back to the early 16th century. The walls around the High Altar are decorated with paintings on wood depicting scenes from St.Francis life. The church was built by eight Franciscan friars who arrived here in 1517 and constructed a small chapel, which was later pulled down and the present building was constructed on the same spot in 1661 and later restored in 1762-5. The style is Portuguese Gothic. The convent now houses the Archaeological Museum, which has an impressive range of stone sculptures from different ages in Goa’s history and some portraits of former Viceroys.

 Church Of St. Cajetan:Convent and Church of St Catejan was built by Italian Friars of the Theatine order who were sent to India by Pope Urban III to preach Christianity in the kingdom of Golconda (near Hyderabad). This church is modeled on the original design of St Peter’s in Rome and shaped like a Greek cross. The friars were not permitted to work in Golconda, so settled at Old Goa in 1640. The construction of the church began in 1655.

The Arch of the Viceroys:The Arch of the Viceroys (Ribeira dos Viceroys) was built at the end of the 16th century to commemorate the centenary of Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India. His grandson, Francisco da Gama was Viceroy (1597-160). On the arrival of each new viceroy this would be decorated. The ornamentation includes a statue of Vasco da Gama. The arch was rebuilt in 1954. 

Gate of the Fortress of the Adil Shahs:The Gate of the Fortress of the Adil Shah's comprises of a lintel supported on moulded pillars mounted on a plinth and was probably built by Sabaji, Hindu ruler of Goa before the Muslim conquest of 1471. The now ruined palace was occupied by Adil Shahi sultans of Bijaipur who occupied Goa before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1510. It then became the Palace of the Viceroys from 1554 to 1695.  

Pilar Seminary: The Pilar Seminary is in the village of Velha Goa, 2 km inland. This ancient institution was founded in 1613 and was sited on the top of a hill over a Siva temple, Relics of a headless Nandi Bull and a rock carving of a Naga serpent were found. 

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