Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Old Goa, Goa

Located 9 km to east of Panaji, Old Goa was the erstwhile capital of the Portuguese dominions in Goa. Before the arrival of the Portuguese on the Goan shores, Old Goa was the regal capital of Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur. After defeating the armies of the Sultan, the Portuguese led by Alfonso de Albuquerque started building their empire around Old Goa.

As the epicenter of Portuguese territory, Old Goa witnessed the profusion of magnificent churches and majestic buildings befitting the stature of the city. During its halcyon days, Old Goa became famous as the "Lisbon of the East." But soon recurring outbreaks of epidemics like cholera and malaria made the city highly inhospitable and the Portuguese moved their capital to Panaji in 1843. 

With the patrons taking shelter elsewhere, Old Goa lost its pre-eminence and the awe-inspiring structures of the city were gradually reduced to ruins. Accorded the World heritage Site status by UNESCO, the opulent buildings and churches of Old Goa today reminds one of the grandeur of a bygone era. 

Places to See:

A must-have on the Old Goa tour, the Basilica of Bom Jesus church is dedicated to Infant Jesus. An epitome of Baroque architecture, this church has been declared a World Heritage Monument. Basilica of Bom Jesus enshrines the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa. On the occasion of 'Exposition,' held once in a decade, St. Francis Xavier's body is displayed for the public.

One of the largest churches in Asia, the Se Cathedral was dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria since the Portuguese led by Alfonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa on the St. Catherine's day (November 25) in 1510. The church contains the Golden Bell used during the infamous Goa Inquisition.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) set up the Archaeological Museum in the abandoned Convent of St. Francis of Assisi. The 8 galleries of the Archaeological Museum in Old Goa display portraits and sculptures from the prehistoric to the late mediaeval period.

Viceroy's Arch

The Viceroy's Arch was built by Viceroy Francisco da Gama, the grandson of Vasco da Gama. A statue of Vasco da Gama, resplendent in his royal uniform, can be seen on top of the arch. Built of laterite stone, the original arch collapsed in 1948 and it was subsequently restored in 1954. Tradition has it that on taking office, all viceroys made the procession under the arch where they would be given the ceremonial key to the city and Goa. 

Church of Our Lady of Rosary is the oldest surviving Church in Goa. The church stands on the site of Portuguese leader Alfonso de Albuquerque's victory over the armies of Bijapur Sultan in 1510.

The St Cajetan church was built by Italian friars of the order of Theatines, who were sent by Pope Urban VIII to preach Christianity.

The Museum of Christian art is a unique repository of the exquisite church art that blossomed during the Portuguese era.

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi stands contiguous to the Se Cathedral but is less impressive in appearance.

Church and the Convent of St. Monica was Goa's only convent for nuns. Construction of this massive nunnery started in 1606 and reached completion in 1627.



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