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6 Famous Churches of Old Goa

10 mins. read

The twinkling water because of the sun rays, the breeze dashing across your face – the aura of Goa is different; unique that what you find in the rest of the country. And maybe that’s why; the state is touted as the most happening place in India. With the places to visit in Goa, it is no surprise that the state witnesses thousands of visitors every single day.

The notion that Goa has mind-blowing party hubs and casinos has finally started to blur out. People can see the hidden and untouched beauties that the state has. Whether we thank the tourism department of Goa or the travel bloggers – Goa has entered the list of the places with the most scenic views and mesmeric beauties. One of the tourist attractions that amps the beauty of the state is the Churches.

Truth be told, the Churches in Goa are simply marvellous! It is hard to say if the intricate detailing of the interiors mesmerizes you or the appealing architecture. Nevertheless, the state has numerous Churches, many of which are shown in Bollywood movies as well. Don’t be surprised if a local taxi offers to take you on a city tour which features ‘Old Goa ke Church’. In addition to that, there are also some hidden Churches that people are unaware of.

In the North Goa region lays the quaint town of Velha Goa or Old Goa - the city that houses the maximum number of Churches in the state. While some are known to everyone; some are the treasures that stand amidst the beauty of nature. Here is the list of the Old Goa Churches that you must visit when you are in the state: –

1. The Basilica of Bom Jesus

Popularly known as the St. Francis Xavier Church, this is one of the most famous Churches that beautifully stand in the town of Velha Goa. The Church is huge; the exteriors are stunning and the interiors are even more gorgeous. What makes the St. Francis Xavier Church in Old Goa a must-visit is something that cannot be described in words. The mortal remains of St. Francis are preserved and kept in a beautiful coffin inside the Church and irrespective of the caste and creed; everyone pays their tribute to him. There is a belief in Goa that because St. Francis Xavier resides here, the state is safe for he is the protector. The Bom Jesus Church, Old Goa is a 16th-century Roman Catholic Church and now, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The construction of the Church started somewhere around 1594 and was fully structured in 1605. The Church has a beautiful retreat centre as well where students from schools all over the state visit for a 3-day trip and connect themselves with the almighty to find inner peace.

2. Se Cathedral

Arguably one of the largest Churches in India and a famous one in Goa, the Se Cathedral is eye-pleasing beautiful. Adding to its beauty, the history of this Old Goa Church is also very interesting. Constructed by the Portuguese ruler, Afonso de Albuquerque, for celebrating the victory of capturing a city in Goa; it stands tall from 1510 and has Portuguese-Manueline architecture. The interiors of the Church are designed in an aesthetically appealing Corinthian style while the exterior depicts the magnificent Tuscan style. It is said that the day the Se Cathedral laid its foundation, it also happened to be the feast of St. Catherine. So, not only to mark their victory but also to commemorate St. Catherine, the Church was built. It houses the largest bell in the state which is known as the Golden Bell. Located in the town of Old Goa, this Church, the Se Cathedral is open for tourists all days of the week. The timings are from 7:30 AM to 6 PM.

3. Church of St. Francis of Assisi

One of the most significant names in the list of Old Goa Churches - the St. Francis of Assisi Church is a revered Roman Catholic Church. The architecture of the Church reflects the alluring Barque and Corinthian style while the interior of the Church is inlaid with gorgeous ornaments. On the tabernacle, a statue of Jesus Christ and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi are kept. This Old Goa Church is famous for the alluring interiors with numerous paintings that showcase the life of St. Francis. In addition to the paintings, the Church also has exquisitely carved woodwork and majestic frescos. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is the only Church in Goa that has a museum comprising of artefacts, paintings, and sculptures, to name a few. An important piece of information regarding the Old Goa Church is that the tourists can visit the Church from Monday to Saturday from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM. It is closed on Sundays.

4. Church of St. Cajetan

A quite famous Church in Old Goa, the architecture of the St. Cajetan Church is similar to St. Peter’s Church in Rome. The Church is built from laterite blocks and the famous Corinthian style architecture. The tower of the Church is rectangular and the interiors have different sections, which is unique from the rest of the Churches. This is a reason why the St. Cajetan Church is a name that enters the list of Old Goa Churches. The sections have several aisles and massive pillars, making the interiors of the Church more stunning. There is a wooden pulpit that is gorgeously decorated while in the main altar, Holy Mother Mary resides. The interiors are decorated with several pictorial and sculptural depictions of the Holy family and a few of the design elements are inspired by the Baroque style. Located in Old Goa, the Church of St. Cajetan is not known to many; although, it is a Church whose beauty will take your breath away.

5. Catherine’s Chapel 

One of its kind ecclesiastical churches in Old Goa, the Chapel of St. Catherine is a small but elegant structure that was built in 1510 by the Portuguese Governor. It was built to commemorate St. Catherine and ever since its inception, the Chapel has undergone several modifications. However, the final modification was done in 1952 and has been the same since then. It is a very simple but sophisticated interior with rectangular window panes that are a ubiquitous characteristic of the Church. The history of this Old Goa Church holds a distinct significance that talks of the years when the conquest and reclamation of the Portuguese rulers existed in the city.

6. Augustine Tower

One of the most underrated but magnificent Churches in Goa, the St. Augustine Tower is now a broken Church complex in Old Goa. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and if you have watched the Bollywood movies, Dilwale and Singham, you might have probably noticed the Church tower in one of the scenes. Also known as the Church of Nossa Senhora da Graca, it was built in 1602 on top of the Monte Santo which is called the Holy Hill. The St. Augustine Tower was constructed by the Augustinian friars who came to Goa somewhere around 1587. This Old Goa Church was said to be one of the three greatest Augustinian Churches in the Iberian World, the other two being El Escorial and the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora. The Church comprised of four towers which were built of laterite and had eight chapels, four altars, and a convent. The half tower that remains in the complex is a 46-metre, four-storeyed tower.

The Church boasts of magnificent beauty; even though it is a ruined and broken Church complex in Old Goa now, the beauty that it once was can still be seen. The St. Augustine Tower was abandoned in 1835 after the Portuguese Government that ruled Goa at that time evicted many religious orders under its new repressive policies, which took place in this Church complex. The negligence of maintenance caused the vault of the Church to collapse in 1842 and then soon after, the body collapsed as well. By 1931, the Church’s façade and half of one of the towers collapsed and by 1938, the Church complex turned into ruins. The bell of the St. Augustine Tower was moved to the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panaji and remains there to date.

While you should definitely visit these, there are several other beautiful Churches in North Goa that you can add to your Goa tour package. At the same time, South Goa too houses a plethora of majestic Churches where a flock of visitors are welcomed every day. Whether it is the simple St. Andrew’s Church in Vasco-da-Gama or the massive St. Alex Church in Curtorim, you have plenty of them to visit.

March 04, 2021


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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