Whether you’re planning to head to Goa for fun, fest, and feni, or for sun, sand, and seafood, your visit would truly be incomplete without visiting some of its monumental churches that stand as architectural masterpieces and remnants carrying the Portuguese legacy in India. Regardless of the fact that it is considered to be India’s fun capital, Goa also bears the label of ‘Rome of the East’ – quite evidently because of its imposing churches. Here are 5 churches in this smallest state that you simply must visit:
1. Basilica of Bom Jesus
‘Feel captivated by his holy presence’
Located in Old Goa, this is one of the oldest churches in the state, visited by millions mainly to pay respect and catch a glimpse of the casket of St. Francis Xavier, resting in the mausoleum at the top. In this casket lies his body, which is miraculously preserved in top condition for over 400 years. This Catholic church is declared as a UNESCO heritage site and exhibits Baroque architecture. Experience peace and a heavenly calm near its opulent altar.
2. Se Cathedral
‘Relive the celebrations of the past’
Located in Velha in Old Goa, this church is one of the largest in Goa, known for its golden bell, which is believed to be one of the best in the world and the largest in Goa. This church was built in 1510 to mark the victory of the Portuguese over an invading Muslim army. As that day coincided with the feast of St. Catherine, this cathedral takes its name after this celebration, and is the cathedral of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
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3. Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
‘Experience peace and tranquility’
This 17th century pristine white church in Panjim, with its Baroque style of architecture, happens to be one of the oldest and most notable churches in Goa. Besides the main altar of Mother Mary, the church houses two more altars – one is of Our Lady of Rosary, and the other is of the crucifixion of Jesus. A big bell tower inside the premises boasts of being the second largest in Goa. On the 8th of December each year on the occasion of the festival of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the church is decorated and adorned with lights. If you are visiting Goa during this time, participate in this joyous occasion and the festivities.
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4. Church of St. Francis of Assisi
‘Feel blessed and protected within its aura’
This impressive Roman Catholic church was built by the Portuguese in 1661, and is located in Velha, Old Goa. This along with a convent adjunct to its structure promises a twin attraction to tourists. The convent serves as a museum, and you can see several paintings, intricate sculptures and artifacts portraying the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Stand in solitude to feel the energy vibes recharge your spirit.
5. Church of St. Cajetan
‘Feels like you’re in Rome’
Originally named The Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence, this church in Velha, Old Goa is one of the most beautiful ones in the state, and is located less than a kilometer away from Se Cathedral. It displays Baroque style architecture and is regarded to be a close replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It’s hard to get your eyes off the gilded altars, wooden pulpit, and intricate engraving. Feel fascinated by its charm and regal décor that almost makes you forget you’re in Goa.
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Carry back home the energies of these historic churches and images of their exquisite craftsmanship, for that feeling of having experienced the best of Goa. Such is their charm, that even those who may not have a taste for design and architecture are sure to cultivate and appreciate the same.