Where to See Portuguese Influence in Goa
While most people associate the tiny coastal state of Goa with all-night beach parties, it’s also chock-full of glorious old colonial structures. The Portuguese influence over Goa—the last European colony in India—remains to this day, in the architecture, food, language, and traditions. Here’s where to experience Portuguese influence in Goa. Sao Tome The Portuguese transferred their capital to the city of Panaji in 1759, which led to ample construction. While the city grew considerably in the centuries that followed, some of the older parts of town retain a distinct Portuguese flavor today. The atmospheric Sao Tome district is one such neighborhood: beautiful old houses with colorful exteriors and contrasting white trim mingle with celebrated public buildings such as the post office, formerly a tobacco trading house.
Fontainhas Also in Panaji, Fontainhas is another quintessentially Portuguese neighborhood that was reclaimed in the 18th century (many of the buildings here are from the early to mid-19th century). Highlights of this atmospheric area include the Chapel of Saint Sebastian, which houses a crucifix that once hung inside the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa (Velha Goa).
Basilica of Bom Jesus Before Panaji earned capital-city status, the capital of Portuguese India was situated in what’s now called Old Goa, originally built in the 1400s and later abandoned during a plague outbreak. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for its historic churches. The most famous of these is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, created at the turn of the 17th century by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini. This massive red church is among India’s oldest and holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, Goa’s patron saint.
St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral) The other main church in Old Goa, and certainly the most important in contemporary times, is St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral), which was built at the end of the 16th century to commemorate Portugal’s military victory over Goa. It's full of old relics and religious art, and is the official seat of the archdiocese of Goa and Daman. Fort Aguada For those with an interest in military history, Fort Aguada is worth a visit. It was built in 1612 and looks out over the Arabian Sea, just south of Sinquerim Beach. Prominent features include a long moat and a 4-story lighthouse—the largest of its kind in Asia—dating back to 1864.