Old Goa is a historic area in the Indian state of Goa, in the district of North Goa. Once the elegant Portuguese capital of Goa, today what is left are just churches and cathedrals. The labyrinth of tortuous streets, squares and large Portuguese houses disappeared a long time ago. Some of the buildings have become archaeological museums and have exhibitions on the history of Goa.
One of the most imposing buildings in Goa Velha is the Convent of São Francisco de Assis, built in 1521, as well as the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which contains, in the chapel, since 1655, the remains of S. Francisco Xavier, the missionary and the patron saint of Goa. The body, kept in a silver urn made by local artisans, is displayed to the public once every ten years. The next public exhibition will be in 2025.
The Cathedral of Santa Catarina is the largest church in India and took eighty years to build, finally being completed in 1640. Old Goa was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now the main cultural attraction of the state, especially for tourists who place a pause on the beach vacation and take the opportunity to admire the massive facades and interiors of the religious monuments. You can now very easily reach the offbeat places in south goa and find the best options there.
The beach of Palolem, in Goa, is one of the most beautiful in this region of India and widely visited by national and foreign tourists. Photo: Nicolas Vollmer
The southernmost beach, Palolem, is considered one of the most beautiful. Located in a natural bay surrounded by mountains on both sides, it offers an idyllic sea for fishermen and foreign tourists. The beach was the setting for filming of the film The Bourne Supremacy, with actor Matt Damon. The variety of beaches in Goa, along the 60 kilometers of coastline, offers scenarios for all tastes and budgetsfrom luxury resorts to simple wooden or bamboo accommodation.
The long and isolated Praia de Agonda is perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of other places and just want to enjoy the silence and nature. On the opposite pole is the Calangute Beach, the most commercial and visited. For those looking for resort and spa vacations, Mandrem, Morjim and Ashwem beaches are the main destinations. For families, Goa’s favorite beach is Mandrem, which offers quiet tides – perfect for children to play. To reach the beach it is necessary to cross a small wooden bridge that rises over the waters of the river.
In the North of Goa, Praia de Arambolbeach, is the ideal place for dolphin watching. With its white sandy beaches, Vagator is gaining notoriety, but the most visited beach is Calangute.
Fortaleza da Aguada is located at the southern end of Sinquerim beach, in Goa, India. Like the fortress, the current lighthouse was also built by the Portuguese, and dates back to 1864, but has been deactivated for several decades.
This fortress is among the best preserved places in Goa. The views from the monument to Sinquerim beach and the Arabian Sea are fascinating. The Aguada Fortress was built in 1613 and has since become a point of reference for ships visiting the coasts of Goa. In addition to being a vital aid to navigation, it was also strategic for the Portuguese to defend against invasive attacks.