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Goa’s Portuguese Heritage

By Viator, November 2013

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In 1510, Portuguese conquistadors under the leadership of Afonso de Albuquerque landed in Goa, forever changing the history and heritage of the state. Today, Goa’s religion, architecture and traditions heavily reflect this period of Portuguese rule, and you can see and even walk through many of the same structures build by Albuquerque and his men.

The heart of Portuguese colonial Goa sits in Velha Goa, or Old Goa. The capital of Portuguese Goa, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once a wealthy trade port larger than London or Lisbon in Europe. Widespread epidemics forced the Portuguese to relocate the capital in the early nineteenth century, but portions of Old Goa remain, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus and St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral), a church that took some 80 years to complete.

When the Portuguese moved the capital city to Panaji in 1759, their culture came along. Today, it’s most evident in Fontainhas, the capital’s Latin quarter. The neighborhood’s cobbled streets and colorful colonial villas would fit in on the Mediterranean coast. It’s here you’ll find the Chapel of St. Sebastian, an early nineteenth-century church that once served the capital’s Portuguese community.

Throughout the colonial period in Goa, the Portuguese were forced to defend the colony from outside forces -- primarily Dutch and Marathas invaders. To do so effectively, they constructed Fort Aguada in 1612. Within the fort you’ll find a four-story lighthouse from 1864, making it the oldest of its kind in Asia.

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