Situated on the banks of the Mandovi River, this scenic fort was built by the Portuguese in 1551 to protect the Mandovi estuary, and was reconstructed in 1707. It was abandoned for much of the 19th and 20th centuries before being turned into a prison. It was later restored and turned into the tourist attraction that it is today.
While the fort is fun to explore, it’s the view that really makes it worth visiting. A trip up to the highest point of the structure is not to be missed, for the fabulous vantage point it offers to the forest and river below. Keep your eyes peeled for inscriptions around the grounds; one marks the spot where the remains of Dom Luis de Ataide, the Count of Atouguia and former Viceroy of Portuguese India and Goa, are interred.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The fort is a must-visit for history lovers and photographers.
- Bring sunscreen and bottled water, as the fort and the area around it can be hot and sunny.
- Wear good walking shoes, because access to the fort requires ascending a steep, mossy staircase.
How to Get There
Reis Magos Fort sits on the northern banks of the Mandovi River, just across from Panaji, but traveling from the fort to the state capital requires a 20-minute drive via the Mandovi Bridge. It's about a 25-minute drive to the fort from Calangute. Because local bus service can be slow, travelers without their own means of transport are best off hiring a taxi or joining a tour that stops at the fort.
When to Get There
The fort is open daily from 8am to 4:30pm and doesn't usually get too crowded. The best time to visit is early in the morning when temperatures are cooler, especially if your Goa visit coincides with the hot pre-monsoon season (roughly April and May).
Reis Magos Church
At the base of the fort sits Reis Magos Church, the first church in the Bardez area of Goa. This whitewashed house of worship was built in 1555 and dedicated to St. Jerome, though it's best known for its connection to the Three Wise Men (Reis Magos). Inside the church is a wooden relief depicting the three kings and the annual Epiphany feast (January 6), which honors the wise men's visit to the baby Jesus.