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Colonial Sites in Goa

By Viator, August 2018

4.5 21 Reviews | Add your review

Long before the flower children stormed the white sand beaches of the Indian state of Goa in the 1960s, setting off a tourist occupation that has lasted ever since, Goa drew the attention of another people. After explorer Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India the Portuguese colonized the state of Goa, which lasted from 1505 to 1961. While the beaches are unquestionably a major draw, your visit to Goa simply wouldn’t be complete without exploring the states colonial history.

1.  Old Goa (Ela)

Old Goa served as the colonial Portuguese capital from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth century, when it was abandoned after repeated bouts of malaria and cholera wiped out much of the population. In its heyday, the city was said to be larger than London and Lisbon, making it one of the most important trading centers in Asia. Today, Old Goa is home to half a dozen old Portuguese churches and a couple of museums and monuments. Spend at least a half day exploring the ruins of Old Goa on foot to kick off your journey into the state’s colonial past.

2.  Panaji (Panjim)

After Old Goa was abandoned, the Portuguese colonial capital moved to nearby Panaji. Goa’s relaxed capital city, particularly the older neighborhoods of Fontainhas and Sao Tome, has retained much of its old world charm. Explore the cobbled, meandering backstreets lined with pastel-painted mansions in Fontainhas, making sure to stop in at the Chapel of St Sebastian. Then sip on feni (cashew or coconut alcohol) in one of the tiny bars along the back streets of Sao Tome.

3.  Forts

Goa’s coastal location made it a strategic point for both trade and military interests, and a couple of the remaining forts are well worth further exploration. Fort Aguada and its lighthouse, the most well-known of the state’s remaining forts, is also one of the best preserved. The seventeenth century fort overlooks the Arabian Sea on Sinquerim Beach, where it was once used to protect the colony against invaders. The smaller and older Reis Magos Fort once guarded the Mandovi River, and the church at the base of the fort is one of the most beautiful in Goa.

4.  Religious Sites

Even though Goa is back under Indian control, the many churches, chapels and cathedrals built during the colonial period remain. One of the most important and popular is the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa where the bodily remains of Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order, are held. Directly across from the basilica sits the imposing white St Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral), the largest church in Old Goa.

Tours & Tickets

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Private Portuguese Heritage Tour: Se Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus and Dona Paula Beach in Goa, ... 
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Private Portuguese Heritage Tour: Se Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus and Dona Paula Beach in Goa

4.5 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

Discover Goa’s historical Portuguese influences on this private half-day tour. Learn about Goa’s colonial history as you visit some of the region’s most ...  Read more

Location: Goa, India
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $45.00
Private Full-Day All-Inclusive Tour of Goa with Lunch at a Spice Plantation, Goa, Private ... 
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Private Full-Day All-Inclusive Tour of Goa with Lunch at a Spice Plantation

4 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

Explore Goa, which was a Portuguese colony until 1961 and remains one of the most unexpected destinations in India, on this 8-hour private guided tour which ...  Read more

Location: Goa Velha, India
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $60.00
Private Cultural Tour: Ancestral Goa, Shantadurga Temple and Spice Village Including Lunch, Goa, ... 
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Private Cultural Tour: Ancestral Goa, Shantadurga Temple and Spice Village Including Lunch

4.5 star rating: Recommended 5 Reviews

Gain a deeper insight of Goa’s cultural heritage, Hindu religion and robust cuisine on this private full-day tour. With your guide, visit Ancestral Goa, a ...  Read more

Location: Goa, India
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $52.00
Museums of South Goa, a day trip in Goa, Goa, Private Sightseeing Tours
TVRM_SORTED : false ESSENTIAL : ADMISSION :

Museums of South Goa, a day trip in Goa

Goa has a strange and novel cultural heritage which has been well preserved in its many museums. In this tour, we go museum hopping to discover and appreciate ...  Read more

Location: Panjim, India
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $125.00
Panaji Heritage walk with cultural evangelist and archaeologist, Goa, Day Trips
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Panaji Heritage walk with cultural evangelist and archaeologist

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 1 Review

In this heritage walk, we explore the past and present of the vibrant city of Panaji which boasts of a  colourful history. From a sleepy little retreat for ...  Read more

Location: Panjim, India
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $50.00
Goa Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, Goa, City Tours
TVRM_SORTED : false ESSENTIAL : ADMISSION :

Goa Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 1 Review

Enjoy the sights of one of India’s most popular tourist paradise called "Goa" on this Open Top double-decker and high-deck hop-on hop-off bus tour. ...  Read more

Location: Panjim, India
Duration: 4 to 9 hrs

From USD $7.77
Private Full day Goa Tour with Sightseeing of North and South Goa, Goa, Hop-on Hop-off Tours
TVRM_SORTED : false ESSENTIAL : ADMISSION :

Private Full day Goa Tour with Sightseeing of North and South Goa

Goa is all about fascinating monuments, churches, beaches and rollicking night life. Goa Full-Day Private Tour shows you its beauty lined by sparkling waters ...  Read more

Location: Panaji, India
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $61.00
Half Day Private Tour in North Goa with Architecture of Churches & Panjim City, Goa, Cultural Tours
TVRM_SORTED : false ESSENTIAL : ADMISSION :

Half Day Private Tour in North Goa with Architecture of Churches & Panjim City

Although Goa is popular all over the world for its sun kissed beaches, but it attracts tourist for another reason also. Everyone is curious in discovering the ...  Read more

Location: Panaji, India
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $36.00
Half Day South Goa Tour with Shantadurga Temples and Portuguese Manor House, Goa, Private ... 
TVRM_SORTED : false ESSENTIAL : ADMISSION :

Half Day South Goa Tour with Shantadurga Temples and Portuguese Manor House

Explore Goa enriched with postcard-perfect beaches, magnificent temples and lip-smacking local cuisine. South Goa Half day tour shows you the place’s serenity ...  Read more

Location: Panaji, India
Duration: 4 to 5 hrs

From USD $53.00
Goa Walking tour: History, Culture, Art and architecture, Goa, Cultural Tours
TVRM_SORTED : false ESSENTIAL : ADMISSION :

Goa Walking tour: History, Culture, Art and architecture

Goa is not just a haven for sun-kissed beaches, amazing nightlife and adventure, but there is more to the city like its enchanting streets, busy markets, ...  Read more

Location: Panaji, India
Duration: 3 to 4 hrs

From USD $45.00

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