Goa - History and Churches of Old Goa

Chapel of Our Lady of Rosary


Goa;History of Old Goa

Goa is a land of beautiful beaches and centuries old churches. The name “Goa” is believed to be derived from “Gomanta” as per the Hindu scriptures.

It is believed that this part of land was submerged in the sea and Parasurama, the Hindu deity reclaimed the land from the sea to settle the Aryans along the banks of the rivers of Mandovi and Zuari. Later it was ruled by Mauryan emperors , followed by Bhoja dynasty, Silaharas and Kadambas and Mughals

Following the landing of Vasco de Gama in 1748, in Calicut, the Portuguese tried to make Cochin (now part of kerala) as their trading centre. Following opposition from the local leaders, they had to move to another location, and they found old Goa the most appropriate place for their trade with its rivers and proximity to sea. Old Goa was an important trade route between the different parts of the world.

In 1510. Afonso de Albuquerque invaded old Goa and succeeded in chasing away the then ruler, Ismail Adil Shah. In seventeenth century, they further expanded their kingdom. The Portuguese built many churches in Goa and transformed the locals in such a way that we can still see a mixed culture in Goa which is not purely Indian. Churches of Goa stand testimony to the blending of Indo-Portugeese culture and architecture.

Places to visit in Goa

The Mughals and the Portuguese erected many grand edifices on the land of Goa to prove their majestic dynasties. The buildings erected by the previous rulers were destroyed when the new rulers took the reign. Some of the buildings in old Goa are very old; some are half broken and many are protected by the archaeological society of India. The tourists’ attractions in Goa are its beaches, temples and churches. In this hub I will try to give description about churches in Old Goa.

The present tourist cannot fully appreciate the ancient grandeur of Old Goa as most of those palatial buildings are destroyed or demolished and only remnants of some of them remain now.

Casino in the waters of Mandovi


Se Cathedral - Old Goa

Se Cathedral is the largest among the churches of Goa and measures 35.36 m high on the façade, 76.2 m long and 55.16 m wide. The church has eight chapels along the aisles, six altars in the transept besides the main altar. A bell tower is located to the southern side of the façade and the bell in this tower is called “Golden bell” on account of its rich sound resonating Old Goa. A latin inscription inside this one of the oldest churches of Goa, records that the Cathedral was ordered to be erected in 1562 during the reign of King Dom Sebastiao.

The main altar of Se Cathedral is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. Wooden statues of St. Paul and St. Peter are kept in niches on either side. This church of Goa remained under construction for nearly three fourths of a century beginning from 1562. The main body of the church was completed in 1619 and the altars in 1652.

Se cathedral has a beautiful exterior and a courtyard. The building looks majestic with high vaulted ceiling and a magnificent appearance. This building speaks volumes of its glorious past and is a blend of Indo Portugese art.

Church & Convent of St Francis of Assisi, Old Goa

Former palace of the Archbishop connects Se Cathedral to the Church & Convent of St Francis of Assisi. It is situated west of Se Cathedral. Eight Franciscan friars constructed a small chapel with three altars and a choir on their arrival in old Goa in 1517 which is now known as the church of St Francis of Assisi. A church consecrated to the Holy Ghost was built in 1521, which was pulled down later. The present church was built in 1661. The church is built on laterile blocks and is lime – plastered. The church has a nave with three chapels on side, a choir, two altars in the transcept and a main altar. One of the chapels had the statue of ‘our Lady of miracles’ brought from Jaffna, in Sri Lanka. A wooden statue of St. Francis of Assissi still can be seen adorning the chapel. The convent adjacent to the church houses the Museum of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1964.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa


Professed House of the Jesuits and Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa

Immediately to the south of the main road is the professed house which was completed in 1585 in spite of opposition from the locals. The church of Bom Jesus is connected to the professed house. Both buildings are made of laterite.

The church has two chapels, a main altar and a sacristy and a choir at the entrance. The church is called the Bom Jesus which means that the ‘Good Jesus” or ‘Infant Jesus’. This is the most revered churches of old Goa as it contains the relics of St. Francis Xavier. On the southern side in the transept is a chapel where the sacred relics of the body of St. Francis Xavier are kept. The silver casket, which serves as a reliquary containing the sacred relics of the saint is exquisitely carved and was once studded with precious stones. St. Francis Xavier is known as the patron saint of Goa. St. Francis Xavier then a student in Paris University reached Goa on 6th May 1542, to spread the ‘love of Christ for all men’. He travelled extensively to spread this message and gave up his body in Sancian, near China in 1552. After his death, his body was found to be fresh and miraculously preserved. It is said that the body continued to be fresh for at least 125 years after the saint’s death. Now the casket contains the ‘relics’ of the saint.

The saint’s finger is displayed to the public on dec 3rd , the feast of St. francis Xavier. The relics including the body is exposed to the public once in ten years , the last being in 2004.

Church of St. Cajetan, Old Goa


Convent and Church of St. Cajetan, Old Goa

Large and beautiful church of St. Cajetan is built of laterite blocks which are lime plastered. The main altar of the church is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. The altar has carvings of beautiful figures of angels. There is a well in the middle of the church building which is reported to have been a Hindu temple tank. Church of St. Cajetan is modelled on the original design of St. Peter’s church in Rome. The church was built by Italian friars of the Order of Theatines who were sent by Pope Urban III to preach Christianity in Golkonda. As they were not permitted entry in Golkonda, they settled in Goa.

Church of St. Cajetan, Old Goa- Altar


Chapel of St. Catherine, Old Goa

The chapel was built in 1510 by Alfonso de Albuquerque to commemorate his entry into the city of Goa on St. Catherine’s day. It is situated further to the west of St. Francis of Assissi. The chapel was renovated in 1550 by Governor George Cabral. This chapel was raised to the state of cathedral by Pope Paul III in 1534 and it remained so till the new cathedral was constructed.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Old Goa

Holyhill is situated to the west of Basilica of Bom Jesus, at the extremity of which is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. There are two chapels and three altars. The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. The church overlooks the Mandovi River and it is has high reverence from the public as it is believed that St. Francis Xavier used to take religious classes here where the church exists now.

Mandovi River, Old Goa

Tower of the Church of St. Augustine, Old Goa

This tower also on the holy hill has four storeys with an arch in each. There were eight richly adorned chapels and four altars and a convent with numerous cells and artistic columns attached to the church. The tower and the church were built by Augustinian friars who arrived Goa in 1587. The church was deserted in 1835 following the religious suppression and the buildings fell into neglect and ruin. The archeological survey of India excavated the site and exposed tanks for holy water, a tunnel with number of unidentified human bones, staircase, dormitories, Chinese pottery, iron nails, coins of Portuguese origin, tiles of different colours etc. 

Tower of the Church of St. Augustine, Old Goa


There are also other churches like Church and Convent of St. Monica, Church of the Carmelites, Convent and the Church of St. John of the God, Royal Chapel of St. Anthony, Convent and Church of the Cross of Miracles, Chapel of Our lady of the Mount etc. in the vicinity. Beaches, temples, casinos and water sports are the other tourist attractions in Goa.

Another beautiful chapel in Old Goa

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Comments 51 comments

bhaskar 22 months ago

thanks for sharing good news and goa history....such a nice place in india everyone must to see this place...

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 2 years ago from India Author

Hi torrilynn

Thanks for the visit

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thumbi7 2 years ago from India Author

Hi M G Singh

Thanks for the validation

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 2 years ago from India Author

Hi Hackslap

Good to know that you have been to Goa and you liked it

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 2 years ago from India Author

@Peggy W

Thanks for the visit and comment

torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 2 years ago

its always great to learn about a little history. history is what keeps us from repeating tragedy by understanding what happened before and knowing we don't want it to happen again. thanks.

MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Goa has many old churches. During Portuguese role these churches were built and now many are bare and deserted. Nice post.

Hackslap profile image

Hackslap 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

I've been to Goa in '97 and stayed at Fort Aguada ..we travelled around a bit and saw Panaji city too .. it's a beautiful place!!

Great hub and history lesson...voted up!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Thanks for the descriptions and photos of the churches and chapels in Goa. The video was also a nice addition. Thanks! Sharing this with my followers.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 2 years ago from India Author

Hi PegCole17

Visiting Goa is one experience which I cannot forget. These churches give us a nostalgic feeling that we have gone way back in history.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Hi Thumbi7. These stunning photographs are professional quality and show the beauty you've described here. Lovely churches. A tour of Goa churches would make a beautiful tourist excursion. They don't make buildings like that these days- such architecture and style. Beautiful.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India Author


Thanks for stopping by

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Goa; History and Churches of Old Goa another informative, useful and interesting hub, the Goa looks so beautiful

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 3 years ago from India Author

Thank you Dinesh. Thanks for the visit and comment

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi ologsinquito,

Thanks for the visit and comment. Old Goa's churches are beautiful...

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 4 years ago from USA

Beautiful churches, especially the inside of the Church of St. Cajetan.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Millionaire Tips,

I am glad that you liked this hub.

Thanks for the visit

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I had heard that Goa was a wonderful tourist spot because of the beaches, but I did not know about the wonderful churches there. You've provided a great tour of the churches, and the photos are wonderful. Voted up and beautiful.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Topaz blue

Thanks for the visit:)

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topaz blue 4 years ago


Great hub! My Dad visited Goa recently and he just raved about Goa on his return, and seeing these photo's I realise now, why! Wonderful views!!!

Many thanks

Topaz Blue

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi dinkan

Goa is beautiful

Staying in India, you should not miss it

Thanks for the visit

dinkan53 profile image

dinkan53 4 years ago from India

Goa is one of the most visiting beaches now a days by the tourists. It is gifted with beautiful beaches, historic buildings and awesome nature. May be the coming year will give me a chance to visit it. Nice pictures.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Electro-Denizen,

People visit Goa for all those reasons which you have mentioned.

You can see many as silent spectators as well

Thanks for the comment:)

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi algarveview,

Goa is very beautiful!

I am glad that you enjoyed it!

Thanks for stopping by:)

Electro-Denizen profile image

Electro-Denizen 4 years ago from Wales, UK

These really are beautiful churches. I had no idea they were there, as I've never visited Goa. I'm afraid the only thing I've known about Goa so far is that British hippies have gone there to hang out near the sea, often for spiritual reasons, but rather more often just to party...

Really interesting hub, voted up!

algarveview profile image

algarveview 4 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

Hello, Thumbi, great hub, I always wanted to visit Goa, it's such a pity it is so far away... After reading your hub I just want to visit Goa even more... Voted up, beautiful and sharing! Have a great day!

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Sandy Frost,

What attracts me to Goa is its uniqueness

I love the churches of Goa.

Sandy Frost profile image

Sandy Frost 4 years ago from India

Really, wonderful depiction of Goa and it's churches. When it comes to talk about beaches, churches and vacation spots, there is no any place like Goa. Everyone would like to stop by there once in life.

Nice hub, thanks for sharing..

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Brett,

Thank you very much for sharing this:)

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Thailand

Great job Thumbi! A really detailed review and I loved your photos ... very nice.

Thanks for SHARING.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi cebutouristspot

I have read about the beautiful places of Cebu Island in your hubs.

Goa is no less with regard to beauty

Thanks for the visit:)

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Alastar Packer,

Thank you very much for sharing this hub

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Pamela,

Glad that you enjoyed the hub.

It is interesting to read India's history

Thanks for sharing.

cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

One more place that I wish I can get to. :( So many places to go but if I could I would definitely visit this wonderful place. You just convince me :)

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

A perfect one to share with the followers thumbi7!

Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

Pamela Kinnaird W 4 years ago from Maui and Arizona

I really enjoyed reading this and learning new facts. I've now looked at a map to see Goa and I've read all about the Mughals; their origins, battles and legacy. India fascinates me. Great hub. Voting up and Sharing.

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Goa tolerated invasion by different dynasties

The remnants of Portuguese rule make the place look very different from the rest of the country.

Thanks for the visit

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Rosika,

Goa is very unique by its natural beauty.

Its beaches, churches and temples attract tourists.

Thanks for the comment

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Ruchira,

Hope you get to see Goa soon:)

Thanks for the visit.

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very interesting the Goa history and pics here thumbi, very fine indeed.

rosika profile image

rosika 4 years ago

Have heard a lot about natural beauty of goa and ooty and i have this desire to go to this place one day in my life..lovely to see those beautiful pictures and to know about Goa's history! voted up!

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Thumb17, Goa is one place that I want to go. Dunno when though...time will tell :)

Loved reading you hub. thanks!

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi tillsontitan ,

Goa’s beauty is incomparable

The place is blessed with natural beauty. These structures add to it

Thanks for the visit

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

Hi Mr. Happy,

I am sure you will enjoy your visit to Goa

Thanks for the comment

lobobrandon profile image

lobobrandon 4 years ago

Great Thumbi, you've depicted the churches beautifully :) Goa's my native place but I do visit only once a year :D

thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India Author

hi tara,

Glad that you enjoyed my hub.

I hope you will get to enjoy the sights of Goa one day

Thanks for sharing

CloudExplorer profile image

CloudExplorer 4 years ago from New York City

This hub was beautiful, its writings authentic and original, and very well done. The images are awesome as well, and so I felt very comfortable reading this hub.

Thanks for sharing it, I would like to travel one day to see of such places as Goa, but until then I will refer to such resources as a cool historical archive of sorts.

Shared above and beyond hubpages, and definitely getting voted up! oh and thanks for giving my hubs a chance as well @thumbi7.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Again you have taken us on a guided tour! How lovely isi Goa and its churches. Your pictures are great as always. Thank you for this lovely hub and education. Voted up, beautiful and interesting.

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Love the photos! I do plan on visiting Goa later this year. Beautiful, thank You for putting this together. Cheers!

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Now I have to see for myself. What a great hub. The history and images work together well along with the flowing narration. You have an award winner here. You are a great ambassador!

As you took us through the story, I was reminded . . . there is nothing new about the global economy.

tarajeyaram profile image

tarajeyaram 4 years ago from Wonderland

Beautiful hub about Goa and its churches. Thank you for the description and pictures. I have heard Goa is very beautiful. I hope to visit one day. Thanks for SHARING.

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