Few people know that churches in Old Goa have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. Goa was a huge evangelization centre from the 16th century onward when it was the heart of the Portuguese empire in Asia. These religious buildings have been included on the UNESCO list because they are believed to disseminate art forms such as the Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque styles; because the buildings are illustrations of the historical evangelization that took place in Goa and due to the huge amount of importance of the tomb of Francisco Xavier, located in the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
Isprava builds luxury holiday homes in Goa and sometimes it is easy to forget the deep history of the culture of Goa. Evangelization is the process of converting people to Christianity and this is an important part of Goa’s history. Goa was a centre of Catholicism in India from the 16th century onward which was regarded as the golden age of the state, trade and architecture thrived during this time. A visit to Goa is incomplete without a visit to one of the city’s many churches so here is a list of the most notable churches in Goa.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
The oldest church in Old Goa, Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário was built in 1543 and is still standing today. The church resembles a small fortress and is built in the typical Manueline Portuguese style with Gothic elements and is located in Margao. It is built of laterite and lime mortar and features two chapels and alters in the church.
One of the largest churches in India, Se Cathedral was built in 1562 and is 91 metres long. The church has Tuscan exteriors but also features the Portuguese Manueline style that was so famous at the time. There is a large bell inside the church, called the Golden Bell alongside a gilt alterpiece.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Francisco Xavier was considered the Apostle of the East and was an important figure for The Society of Jesus who arrived in Goa in 1542. The Basilica of Bom Jesus was built between 1594-1605 and is a single nave temple. The church façade was built by Domingos Fernandes in the Mannerist style though the highlight of this church is that it has housed the remains of Francisco Xavier since 1655. This church has been ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
This is one of the most famous Roman Catholic churches and is notable for the Baroque and Corinthian architecture. The interiors are very beautiful with finely inlaid ornaments and two statues, one of Christ and one of St. Francis. There are lots of paintings depicted St. Francis’ life with detailed woodwork carvings and frescoes. There is also a museum in the church which features artifacts, sculptures and paintings. This church was built in 1521 but was completely rebuilt again in 1661.
Although Goa is famous for beautiful beaches and buzzing nightlife, there is another more cultural side that most tourists miss. These monuments have stood the test of time and stand as testaments to Goa’s rich history and culture.