Although Goa is known for its beaches and nightlife, Goa’s rich cultural heritage is a diverse and intriguing phenomenon. From the Churches of Old Goa to ancient Temples, and Forts which speak of battles and bloodshed, Goa is far more than just a coastal town. We have compiled a few of the most important heritage sites that you must visit when on holiday in Goa.
The Aguada Fort in Sinquerim, North Goa, is a beautifully preserved Portuguese Fort dating back the 17th Century. Built to guard against the Marathas and the Dutch, this heritage site in Goa served as a reference point for ships sailing from Europe. The Fort is named after the freshwater spring that provided the fort with a perennial supply of fresh water. ‘Agua’ is the Portuguese word for water and ‘Aguada’ being a place where water is collected.
One of the splendors of this heritage site is the Aguada Lighthouse. This 4 storeyed lighthouse was built in 1864 and is one of the oldest in Asia. Part of the Fort has been converted into the Aguada jail, which is one of the largest jails in Goa. The Aguada jail is off-limits for the public.
The Taj Aguada Hotel now stands inside the walls of the Fort. This luxury property is a sight to behold. The St. Lawrence Church on the outskirts of the Fort is another attraction of this heritage site in Goa.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa was completed in 1605 making it almost 400 years old. This intriguing monument is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Church is built in the Baroque architectural style and the interiors are heavily adorned with gold, precious stones, and marble carvings. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, being over 400 years old, is not only the oldest in Goa but also one of the oldest in the world.
The Church is home to the body of St, Francis Xavier, which even after his death continued to remain preserved and intact. This is considered to be a miracle and people from all over come to Goa every year to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis Xavier on 3rd December.
Reis Magos Fort
The Reis Magos Fort, now restored as a cultural and heritage center, is the oldest fort in Goa. One of the first bastions of the Portuguese against enemy invasion, The Reis Magos Fort pre-dates even the Aguada Fort. The Fort boasts an arsenal of 33 canons and steep slopes built of laterite rock, making it almost impregnable. Today the Fort is known for its art gallery and the breathtaking view from its ramparts. The Fort can be seen all the way from Panaji which is on the other side of the river. This heritage site is open between 11:00 am to 5:30 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
Shri Mangueshi Temple
Manguesh Devasthan or the Shri Mangueshi Temple is one of the most famous temples in Goa. Located in Priol, in the Ponda Taluka, this famous heritage site can be found about 21 km from Panaji city. A mix of Muslim, Hindu, and Christian influences, the temple architecture is truly a sight to behold. During the annual Jatra in January, the temple is beautifully lit up and the deity is paraded through the streets in a huge chariot with thousands of devotees in attendance.
Constructed in the 17th Century, The Se Cathedral is one of the largest Churches in the continent. The magnificent main altar, with numerous paintings on either side, is dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. To the right of the altar is the Chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of Christ is said to have appeared. Another attraction, close to the Se Cathedral is a Convent which has been converted into an Archeological Museum and is open to the public. This heritage monument is open between 7:15 – 10 pm on Sundays and 7:30 to 6″00 pm on weekdays.
Erected by Adil Shah of Bijapur in the 16th Century, the Fort was converted into a border outpost by the Portuguese in 1717. Located on a hill just above the beaches of Vagator and Chapora, this heritage site is 21 km away from Panaji and 700 meters from Vagator Beach. The Chapora Fort is often referred to as the “Dil Chahta Hai” fort, as this popular Hindi movie was filmed here. The best time to visit the Fort is in the early morning before the day’s heat or in the late evening, to catch a glorious sunset, The fort is open between 10 AM to 5:30 PM every day and entry is free.
St. Augustine Ruins
The lone tower, spiraling upwards towards the sky is all that is left of the once glorious Church of St. Augustine. Declared to be a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the Church is also the site of the discovery of the remains of the martyr Queen Ketevan. When the Augustinians were expelled from Goa in 1835, the church was abandoned and the main vault of the church gradually collapsed in to decay. The ancient bell was moved to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji, where it can be seen to this day.All that remains of this magnificent heritage site is the belfry tower which is over 150 ft high.
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