Goa has truly earned the name "Rome of the East". It abounds in churches and chapels, some dating back to the 16th century. The profusion and architectural excellence of churches include superb examples of late Renaissance, early Baroque, Manueline and Gothic. These churches have very intricate detailing and ornamentation. The most popular or the best known are the churches and cathedrals at Old Goa. But these are definitely not the only ones worth mentioning. Here are some worth visiting. They will certainly be open on Sundays; other days are variable. The ones at Old Goa are open daily.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

basilica of bom jesus church in old goaIn Old Goa, this imposing Basilica was built by the Jesuits, and consecrated to the Holy Name of Jesus on 15 May 1605. The mortal remains of St Francis xavier are housed inside. Until the church was built, they were kept at St Paul's Old Goa.

The casket holding the body of the saint was a gift of the Duke of Tuscany. The body of the saint is dressed in rich vestments with an embroidered coat of arms. On the right-hand side is a golden baton with 194 emeralds and at the feet is a big gold medal of King Dom Pedro II.

The Basilica's three-storey western front overlooks a forecourt, which it shares with the 'Casa Professa' (Professed House) of the Jesuits. The imposing fa?ade of black granite is remarkable for its simplicity. The first thing the visitor sees as he enters the church is the life size statue of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, which occupies the center of the main altar.

mortal remains of st.francis xavier at basilica of bom jesus churchBefore the Professed House was built, this area was a vast square known as 'Terreiro dos Galos' because cockfights were held here. The professed House of the Jesuits was constructed in 1585, stoutly opposed by the Municipal Chamber of the city, the Santa Casa de Misericordia and the Franciscans. It was rebuilt in 1663, after a fire. The somewhat forbidding fa?ade is linked to the Basilica of Bom Jesus by a beautiful arcaded courtyard. Today there are only few Jesuit fathers who hold retreats for youngsters who occupy this building. The most important feature of the exterior of this Basilica is the west fade, more elaborately decorated than that of any other Goan Church.

Chapel of St Anthony

chapel of st.catherineIn Old Goa, this chapel, on the hill near the church of Our Lady of Rosary, is dedicated to the patron saint of Portugal. It was the royal chapel. The statue of St Anthony was given the rank of captain of the army, with a salary due to his rank. This statue was even taken in solemn procession to the State Treasury Office where the treasurer would respectfully deposit, in the hands of the statue, the salary due to him. Small in proportions, the chapel has only a nave with flanking passages. The main alter has a vaulted paneled ceiling similar to that of the church of St Francis of Assisi. Clerestory windows flood the nave with sunlight.

Chapel of St Catherine

In Old Goa, as a small freestanding structure, it was the first place of worship ever to be erected in Goa after the reconquest in 1510. It was built in thanks for the victory against the Muslims and is dedicated to St Catherine because her feast day is on 25 November, the date of the reconquest.

Although small in size, this chapel was made a cathedral on 3 November 1534 and remained so until the new cathedral was built. Its fa?ade is Renaissance, a style later amplified for the present cathedral built nearby. A place card on the enlarged structure implied that the gateway of Muslim city's wall was located here. It was further rebuilt just before the Portuguese were expelled from Goa.

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

church of our lady of the immaculate conceptionIn Panaji, set in the heart of Panaji, this church was built around AD1514. Originally a chapel, it was elevated to a church in AD1600 and then renovated in AD1619. The bell of the church is second in size only to that of the Se Cathedral at Old Goa. The bell's size is explained by the fact that it was not originally in this church but was brought from the ruined Augustinian monastery in Old Goa. At the base of the church is Church Square. Red laterite steps joined in white create a dazzling pattern leading to the entrance of the church. The staircase was built in 1870. In the sanctuary, the three alter pieces are great examples of Baroque craftsmanship. A chapel in the church dedicated to St Francis Xavier is on the south side.

Church of the Holy Spirit Margao, first built in 1564, it was burnt down by Muslims (1571) and later rebuilt but demolished again in 1645. The final structure was completed in 1675, with a fa?ade of Ionic columns flanked by two towers, which are seen over Margao and its surroundings. The church has ten altars and two small chapels. One is dedicated to Archangel Michael, and the other to St Roque and St of holy spirit in margao

Church of Our Lady of Mount

church of our lady of mount in old goaIn old Goa, on the summit of hillock opposite the Se Cathedral stands the Church of Our Lady of the Mound (Feast day, 8 September). Neat stone steps leads up to the top. This Where the artillery of Yusuf Ali Adil Shah fired from and decimated Alfonso de Albuquerque's forces, Albuquerque reconquered Goa in 1510 and commissioned Our Lady of the Mound as part of this votive offering for victory. Although this church can hardly be called one of the architectural jewels of Goa, from its steps one gets a splendid view of the surrounding great churches.

Church of Our Lady of Miracles

In Mapusa, this church was built in 1594 over a destroyed temple. It has an exquisite Baroque fa?ade, three alter, and the main one is dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles and is richly carved, as is the pulpit. The ceiling is intricately patterned with strips of wood. The image of Nossa Senhora de Milagres (Our Lady of Miracles) is held in great veneration, both by Hindus and Christians alike. The Hindus consider her a sister of Lairaee at Sirigao. The church was restored after a disastrous fire in 1838; it was again damaged when the Portuguese tried to blow up the adjacent bridge in 1961 while resisting India's attempt to liberate Goa.

Church of the Rosary or Mac De Deus Church

In Saligao, this church, in fine neo-Gothic style, was built in 1873 amidst picturesque surroundings. The shrine of the miraculous statue of the Mother of God was brought from the ruins of the convent of Mac De Deus, Old Goa. Young boys are prepared at the minor seminary here for eventual enrollment at Rachol.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary

In Old Goa, also known as the Church of St Mary of Rosary, this church was build in 1543 on the Holy Mound (Monte Santo) close to the convents of St Monica and St Augustine. Its importance is that it stands on the exact spot from where the conqueror of Goa, Alfonso de Albuquerque, witnessed the reconquest of Goa in 1510. The church bears following inscription place there in 1931: Deste alto assistiu Alfonso de Albuquerque em 25-11-1510, a recoqquista de Goa (from this hill Alfonso de Albuquerque on 25 November 1510 witnessed Portugal's reconquest of Goa). This was Old Goa's parish church from 1543. St Francis Xavier would preach here in the evening, ringing his little bell to attract large crowds. The church is the oldest complete structure to survive in Old Goa. The church's architectural style is Manueline, a blending of later Gothic and Renaissance. It is similar to the churches in Portugal such as the Church of Madelena of Olivenca noted for its fa?ade composed of large square towers. The ceiling of the church is wooden. The Church's austere, Romanesque external simplicity contrasts with the internal richness of the late Gothic decoration. Inside lies the tomb of Dona Catarina, wife of the Viceroy Garcia de Sa, whose marriage St Francis Xavier is said to have celebrated. As a whole, the church marks the beginning of Indo-Portuguese art. As the church is open only on special occasions, few visitors are able to view the simple but delightful interior with its beamed roof.

Church of Reis Magos

In Verem (Bardez), set on the right bank of the Mandovi River, the church was built in 1555. It is dedicated to the Three Magic Kings. Three viceroys who died while on service in Goa are buried here. Every 6 January, the feast of Reis Magos is celebrated here. This was once the home of all dignitaries of the Franciscan order and their mission. It is built next to the Reis Magos fort, which is entirely a prison of reis magos

Church of St Anne (Santana)

In Talaulim, dedicated to St Ana, the grandmother of Jesus Christ, this is Goa's best surviving Baroque church. It was completed in 1695 on the right bank of Siridao River not far from Pilar Seminary and has picturesque surroundings. The unique feature of this church is that it has hollow walls through which people could walk in secrecy for the purpose of confession. Best visited on Sundays, as it is sure to be open.

Church of St Cajetan

In Old Goa, standing close to the ruins of the Viceregal Palace, Italian friars of the Theatine order built this beautiful church in 1656. Though the church is small, it is clearly inspired by the Basilica of St Peter in Rome. The external architecture is Corinthian, the interior Mosaico-Corinthian. In the middle of the nave, directly under the cupola, is a well that is covered except for small opening. The green grass on the cupola is attributed to the moisture emanating from the sell. The Pastoral Centre for its liturgical services recently renovated the church. It is the only surviving domed church in Goa.

Church of St Francis of Assisi

church of st.francis of assisi in old goaIn Old Goa, the convent and church of St Francis of Assisi is next to the Cathedral. The church was first built in 1510 and rebuilt from 1521 onwards on the site of a mosque. It has the most beautiful interior of all churches in Old Goa, wonderfully enriched with gold, especially at the east end. The painted ceiling remains, as do the 17th century wall paintings in the chancel. Portuguese tombstones carpet the nave floor. A Manueline doorway and octagonal towers flanking the fa?ade are the two unusual features in the style of the otherwise exclusively Baroque church.

Church and Convent of St Augustine

In Old Goa, a lonely tower retaining its original height of 46 meters (150 feet) overlooks the old city. It is a mere skeleton of the old square towers and the treat church, which are now a heap of ruins covered by vegetation. Yet it is impressive. A dozen Augustinian friars on their arrival in Goa built this convent in 1572. After a decade this convent was rebuilt, mainly through the efforts of Fr.Gaspar de Sao Vicente, and dedicated to Our Lady of Grace. It became Goa's richest convent, with a massive adjoining church, whose vaulted nave was one of Goa's feats of construction. During construction, the high vault fell down twice. However, the Italian architect would not give up. When built a third time, he and his only son stood under the vault and asked for a heavy cannon to be fired to test the stability of the structure. It did not fall down-until much later. Then the bell, Goa's second largest, was removed from the belfry and transferred to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Panaji. Towards the south of the convent, the Novitiate of the Augustinians was an integral part of the convent, while the majestic 'Collegio do Populo' was for training younger brethrens. It was linked to the Novitiate by a bridge over the Rua dos Judeus (Street of the Jews). This group of imposing Augustinian buildings was abandoned when the order was suppressed.

Church and Convent of St John of God

In Old Goa, built in 1685, right next to St Augustine, the church is dedicated to Our Lady of Good Success. It gradually declined in importance until 1834 when the building was bought by the nuns of St Monica to be used as residence for their chaplains and confessors. It is comparatively simple in style and was completely restored by the Portuguese just before they were expelled from Goa. Franciscan nuns who run an Old Age Home now occupy the church and convent.

Church and Convent of St Monica

In Old Goa, although largely decayed now, this was Goa's only convent for nuns. It was started on the holy hill in 1606 but was finished only in 1627, because a fire destroyed the building in 1620. It took 15 years to rebuild. This vast church and convent met all the needs of the 150 cloistered nuns from the retreat of Nossa Senhora de Serra. It had vast corridors, vaulted ceilings, a courtyard called 'Vale de Liro' and a three-storey palazzo-style building containing nun's cells, penance rooms and a dungeon.

The 'penitents', either voluntarily or through persuasion, flagellated and stigmatized themselves with ropes, lather straps and iron nails. The 'recalcitrant' were cast in the dungeon, and here the Rodeira-the nun who held the keys to the outer door of the cloister-dealt with them and they were jailed for life.

In the entrance the nunnery, there was a turntable with a hand-bell by it. Until the 19th century, illegitimate children were deposited here in the dead of night. When the bell was rung, the Rodeira would turn the table through an opening in the wall, pull the unwanted child and have it baptized. The turntable has long since been dismantled, the wall whitewashed and all memories of the practice physically erased. The 17th century frescos on the dome have also been destroyed. Today, much decayed, it is Asia's largest training center for Catholic nuns. At present this building is also the Master Dei Institute, use by nuns of various orders for their theological studies.

Se Cathedral

In Old Goa, the imposing Se Cathedral was completed in the year 1631. Work had begun in 1562 and it took over 62 years to complete. The massive structure, the largest in Goa, is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria on whose feast day in 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque defeated the Muslim army and repossessed the city of Goa. The tower on the right fell down in 1776 and has not been rebuilt. A mosque earlier occupied the cathedral site. Its inspiration may be the cathedral at Porto Alegre in Portugal, although it differs in the plan of the apse and the transepts.

se cathedral in old goa

he fa?ade rises 115.66 feet to the crowning cross. The exterior is built in half-Tuscan, half-Doric style, the inside in Mosaico-Corinthian. The nave is 72 feet high; near the entrance is the Baptismal font where St Francis Xavier is said to have baptized thousands of Goan converts. The main alter is engraved with images of martyrdom of St Catherine. The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is beautifully decorated. The north tower was lost in 1776 after being struck by lightning. The south tower accommodated what is known as the 'golden bell', due to its resonant tone. Adjoining the Cathedral, on its northwestern side, stands the Old Palace of the Archbishop.

In the neighborhood of the Cathedral was the famous Palace of Inquisition, the Senate House and the 'Estancia Real de Tobaco' or Royal Depot of Tobacco. Here you will also find the ruins of the Royal Palace and its gateway just in front of the Church of Diving Providence, or the Church of St Cajetan, as it is popularly known. The doorway suggests Indo-Muslim influence, and remains one of Muslim tombs and mosques.

St.Alex Church

st.alex churchIn Calangute, this is one of Goa's oldest churches, built in 1597 on the site of a Hindu shrine called Ravalnath, whose remains can still be seen. It overlooks the main road to Mapusa.

Our Lady of Mercy

In Colva, founded in 1630, and rebuilt in the eighteenth century on the village square, houses one of Goa's most venerated cult objects; the miraculous statue of "Menino" Baby Jesus.


Panaji: Live-in-Apartments, 2nd floor, General Bernardo Guedes Road. Tele.No.+91 832 2465378. English service at 9.00 a.m on Sundays.

Ponda: Mount Carmel Chapel, B-2, Neel Kamal Co-operative Housing Society, Shanti Nagar. Tele.No. 316719 English service at 10.00 a.m on Sundays.

Margao: Near Jet International Travels, Borda. Tele 9822180638, +91 832 2700297 or +91 832 2788985. English service at 09.30 a.m on Sundays.

Vasco: Westend Hotel, Opp.Anapurana Hotel, Near Market. Tele.No. 519738, 519739. Tamil service at 9.00 a.m on Sundays.