Goa was one of the most prominent trade centres in India and hence attracted merchants, seafarers and traders. The Portuguese, in particular, came to Goa and never went back. They ruled Goa for almost 450 years and hence their influence is clearly visible in the structures and the culture of the place. More popular for its beaches and party lifestyle, it is also a delight for a history lover with its architecture. With the flight fare from Delhi to Goa well within reach, book your tickets to begin the history lesson. Here are some places that should definitely make the checklist.
The fort was rebuilt and used by the Portuguese as a defence mechanism against the Marathas in 1617. In fact, the entry points for the underground escape tunnels are still visible to date. While it was abandoned in 1892, the red laterite stone structure is still a popular attraction as it serves as an excellent vantage point providing a spectacular view of the Anjuna beach, Vagator Beach and the Chapora beach.
Reis Magos Fort
A major heritage site, the fort was built by the Portuguese Viceroy Alfonso de Noronha in 1551 and was rebuilt in 1707. It was initially used as a resting place for viceroys and dignitaries but was later converted into a fortress and played a major role in defence of Goa against the Marathas in 1739. Perched atop a hill, it provides a breathtaking view of the river Mandovi. Designed to withstand a siege, the fort has its source of water through a water spring inside it in addition to underground rooms and passages.
The largest church in Asia, it was built to commemorate the Portuguese defeating the army of Adil Shah and capturing Goa. The church was completed in 1619 and has become an important part of Goa’s iconography with the UNESCO declaring it a World Heritage Site. Built in the Portuguese-Gothic style, the exterior of the church is Tuscan while the interior is Corinthian. The grand altar is a sight to behold and is dedicated to the St. Catherine of Alexandria.
Basilica de Bom Jesus
Deeply revered by Christians around the world, the church is dedicated to the Infant Jesus. You can see the exquisite inlay work and frescoes at the altar as you walk on the marble flooring that covers the church. Built in the Baroque style of architecture, it has been declared a World Heritage Monument. It holds the mortal remains of the patron Saint of Goa, St. Francis Xavier. It was the first Minor Basilica in India and attracts a large crowd of devotees till date.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
The Church has the distinction of being the first and hence the oldest Church in Goa. Built in 1541, it stands majestically still and offers a great view of the Panjim City. The bell at the church is the second largest bell in all of Goa and was brought from the ruins of the St. Augustine Church, Old Goa. With an impressive facade and two altars, large crowds gather here for the feast of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church on the 8th of December every year.
Goa offers a surprise at every turn and is replete with monuments, churches and forts that reflect its rich historical past. Easily accessible, many sites like Yatra offer great deals for you to visit the place. Check the flight fare from Delhi to Goa and come prepared with your camera for a fascinating tour of history.