The Churches of Old Goa – Ancient Former Capital and “Rome of the East”

Old Goa – the former capital of Goa has a number of old Christian buildings that are definitely worth seeing. First and foremost there are the two main buildings Basilika St. Francis and Sé Cathedral. This is an opportunity to see historic, Portugese buildings from the colonial time right in the middle of India.

Basilika St. Francis and Sé Cathedral

In its peak time between the 16th and 18th century, Old Goa was a big city with more residents than London. How powerful and influential this city was in this phase can be seen at the big churches that were built in those days. Even its Portuguese influence is still there. Due to a wave of malaria and cholera, the city had to be abandoned in the 18th century.

You find the Basilika St. Francis here, a very famous missionary from the east, whose deadly remains are buried here. The basilica dates back to 1594 and is more than 400 years old.

The second important building is Sé Cathedral, built between 1562 and 1619. Almost 80 meters in height, this is Asia’s biggest church. These two main buildings are really impressive and make something unusual: a Christian church that big in the middle of Asia.

Some more building are:

  • the Church of Francis of Assisi
  • a museum about Christian Art
  • the Church of St. Cajetan
  • the ruins of the old St. Augustine monastery
  • the Church of Our Lady of the Mount” (at bit isolated, 2 km from everything else)

…and some more chapels, churches and ruins.

Some of the buildings are very well-preserved, other in decline. Anyways, the atmosphere and past meaning of the city becomes very clear.

Old Goa – How Do I Get There?

When you are in Panjim, you can easily reach Old Goa. There are busses but also rikschas are ready to take tourists there. Simply ask someone or wait until someone asks you. All of this should be rather cheap and cost you only a few Euros.

From all the beaches, you can find a driver who takes you around for the whole day. This is probably a bit more expensive but still doable. You book a driver and a car for the entire day, tell him where you want to go and find an agreement about a whole-day price. That depends on where you are, where you want to go and how long. You can for example do a day trip to the Panjim city center and Old Goa.

Old Goa – A Place to Recommend?

Yes, I do recommend it but (there is always a but 😉 you see churches. Speaking for myself: Churches are everywhere in Europe, some of them extremely gorgeous. When it comes to churches, I am quickly and easily bored, in general not interested that much and not enthusiastic. I wanted to see Old Goa anyways and do not regret it. You should know what you get: grand, beautiful churches in the middle of India. Neither the greatest nor the prettiest churches I have ever seen. Inside and outside are nice but not spectacular or outstanding. If you come from the US and do not know old buildings, this is the right place for you. But buildings like the dome in Cologne and the dome in Speyer are more sparkling than anything in Goa.

To visit these churches, dress the way you would dress to go to a church in Europe. In short that means: cover yourself, no swim wear or anything. Taking and additional scarf with you always comes in handy. If you stick to these rules, you don’t have a reason to buy anything in front of the building or believe any of the stories they tell you. There are some guys who try to sell an additional scarf or give you a rental scarf because your clothes are allegedly inappropriate. Just do what you would do in Europe: do you need an extra scarf take it, do you not need an extra scarf ignore these guys.

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