Old Goa or Velha Goa is a port city which served as the former capital of Portugese colony of Goa until the mid-19th century when it had to be abandoned by the rulers due to epidemics that ravaged the city. The viceroy’s residence was then shifted to Panaji (New Goa) located 10 kilometres to the west of Old Goa on the left bank of the Mandovi river.
Today Old Goa is an architectural reserve famous for its outstanding Catholic temples that determined the city’s place in UNESCO World Heritage List. Hence, Old Goa is the most important cultural and historic site of the state which reflects the prosperity of the Portugese colonial empire and the missionary work of the Roman Catholic Church. A legend says that even Lisbon faded to the background of the glittering Old Goa, which is why the former capital is also called Golden Goa.
What to see and what to visit in Old Goa?
- The Cathedral of St. Catherine, known as Sé Cathedral of Santa Catarina or simply Sé Cathedral, i s the largest church in India or, according to some sources, even in Southeastern Asia. The Se Cathedral houses the Cross of Miracles, which is said to grant wishes. The toll of the famous “Golden Bell” can be heard 14 kilometres away. There is also the Museum of Christian Art nearby.
- The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is a graceful temple built in the early 17 th century by Franciscan friars. The former convent is now an archaeological museum.
- The Basilica of Bom Jesus or Borea Jezuchi Bajilika or Basílica do Bom Jesus is a pride and glory of Old Goa known to the entire catholic world. It contains the relics of St. Francis Xavier – one of the founders of the Society of Jesus and the pioneer of the catholic mission in Asia.
- The Church of St. Cajetan was constructed to match the design of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.
- Among other prominent buildings you will find The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, The Chapel of St. Catherine, The Viceroy's Arch, The Gate of the Palace of Yusuf Adil Shah, The Church of St. Augustine, The Royal Chapel of St. Anthony, The Convent and Church of St. Monica
All travel agencies offer excursions to Old Goa or a trip to the former capital as a part of larger tours. Those who are interested in exploring the city sites thoroughly should make use of guided tours.