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Glorious Goa: Culture & Architecture - Churches of Goa

Goa features high up on the list of popular tourist destinations in India what with its beautiful beaches, exotic flora and fauna, adventure sports activities and multi-faceted cultural heritage. No wonder the Portuguese named it ‘The Pearl of the Orient’. A great hit with honeymoon couples and holidaying families alike, Goa is frequently visited by domestic and international travellers.

   

The people of Goa are known for their love for the art, music and dance. Your visit to Panaji (capital of Goa) will be nothing less than a celebration as you marvel at its myriad shades, each brighter and more colourful than the other.

Architectural Excellence: The Portuguese ruled Goa for over four centuries during which time they left their mark on Goa’s cultural heritage which is evident even today. The Portuguese influence can be clearly seen by looking at the historical sites, churches, monuments and buildings that showcase the Portuguese and European style architecture.

Churches of Goa: Faith and religion forms an important part of Goa’s culture. Churches of Goa have caught the attention & interest of tourists & travellers, archaeologist, students of architecture and historians alike. As you travel the length and breadth of Goa, you will come across many enchanting churches that bear testament to its rich and varied heritage.

Let’s take a look at some of the most well-known Churches in Goa -

1. Se Cathedral, Old Goa – Known to be one of the largest churches in Goa, India and Asia, the Se Cathedral was built on St. Catherine’s day – Nov 25th, 1510 and is dedicated to her. It was on this day that Alfonso de Albuquerque, led by the Portuguese conquered Goa. Besides its grand architecture, the Se Cathedral is well known for the cross of Miracles that is seen to be growing in size. Other attractions include the famous Golden Bell, its 14 altars and 80m long aisle.

   

2. The Rachol Seminary, South Goa – Situated about 12kms from Margao, South Goa the Rachol Seminary, which was earlier a fortress was built into a church by the Portuguese. It was later converted into a prison. In the year 1574, the Rachol Seminary was established to impart knowledge of theology and philosophy. The same seminary is home to the Museum of Christian Art.

3. Church of St. Andrew, Goa – Located at the northern end of Goa Velha is the Church of St. Andrew, the Apostle. The most striking attraction of this church is the famous procession that is taken out every year, a fortnight before Easter in which 30 statues of the saints are paraded over a distance of about 2 km across the village.

4. Convent and Church of St. Cajetan, Mapusa – The Church of St. Cajetan is located in Old Goa and is 121 feet in length and 81 feet in breadth. Built in 1640, this church has an exquisite structure which was designed keeping in mind the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. It is believed that the Cajetan Church was built by the Italian Friars of the Theatines who were asked by Pope Urban VIII to spread Christianity.

5. Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi – The present church is a rebuilt version of the small chapel that was built in 1517 and stands next to the Se Cathedral. The old black stone gate still stands with its beautiful ornate carvings. This beautiful structure is about 190 feet in length and about 60 feet in breadth. If you visit Goa, you must take time out to visit the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and marvel at the tombstones which are closely engraved, depicting the life of St. Francis. Another must-visit is the Archaeological Museum, which is located in the convent.

6. Chapel of St. Catherine – As the name suggests, this chapel is dedicated to St. Catherine. It was built by Alfonso de Albuquerque when he became victorious in 1510 by conquering Goa. The new altar built in 1550 stands out for its beauty even today.

7. Basilica of BomJesus, Old Goa – Being one of the most famous churches in Old Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is frequented by tourists from all over the world. This church is dedicated to infant Jesus and is home to the remains of St. Francis Xavier. Construction of the Basilica took many years from 1594 to 1605. The main altar is of particular significance as it showcases the image of infant Jesus.

Besides these, there are many more important churches in Goa that stand out for their brilliant architecture and peaceful interiors. These include the Church of Holy Spirit, the Church of Our Lady of Rosary, Tower of the Church of St. Augustine, the Ries Magos Church, the Church of Mae de Deus and the Chapel of St. Xavier, among others.

 

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