Hiiii! Yes, we’re back with more content on Goa! Thought it was impossible to dig up more, did you? Well, when it comes to Goa our thirst for adventure is unquenchable and the depths we can go to dredge more information on Goa is nigh unsurpassable! So here we go again with our favourite place on Earth and this time we’re going to be talking Churches! Yes, you heard right. The very places where Christians worship and offer prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ. The places where you see beautiful stained glass ceilings and windows, beautiful old architecture, paintings, the sweet fragrance of frankincense perfuming the air and maybe even the remains of an ancient saint.

Goa’s tryst with history and heritage is colourful, sprinkled equally with bloodlust, wars and multiple communities; among which are chiefly Hindus, Mughals, the Portuguese and the Dutch, all their influences melded together to shape the Goa as we know it today. And with the Portuguese and Dutch influences it’s natural that Goa should have its fair share of pretty churches tucked all around its landscape. After all the Europeans have left (they beat a hasty retreat after a war that lasted only a day!) and these are the only things left behind. And while there are several with each being more beautiful than the other or possessing some different feature, we are only going to talk about the 10 that we found to be the best. So no offence people, if yours isn’t included.

 

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Basilica of Bom Jesus, GoaAddress: Old Goa Rd, Bainguinim, Goa 403402
Timings: 9 A.M – 6:30 P.M Everyday
How to get there: Bus / Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

If you’re thinking let’s start with some of the oldest churches in Goa, well you can’t any older than the Bom Jesus Basilica. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this beautiful 108 year old church in Old Goa is considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture. The interiors are a combination of opulence and simplicity as you can see with the floor that is inlaid with marble and precious stones! It has a mausoleum at the top which contains the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier, which is still supposed to be well preserved, in a silver casket. Designed by Giovanni Battista, a renowned sculptor in the 17th century, it took almost ten years to finish constructing this mausoleum.

Then there’s the Bom Jesus Basilica Art Gallery which the church houses and it exhibits the works of a Goan painter called Dom Martin. The church is open from 10.30 am and 6.30 pm.

 

Se Cathedral de Santa Catarina

Se-Cathedral-GoaAddress: Velha, Goa 403402
Timings:  7.30 A.M and 6.00 P.M on all days.
How to get there: Bus / Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

Commonly known as Se Cathedral, this happens to be one of the largest churches in India and is also among the most popular churches of Goa. Originally it was built to celebrate the victory of the Afonso Albuquerque over a Muslim army, leading to capture the city of Goa in 1510. It so happened that the day was also the feast of Saint Catherine and thus, the Cathedral was dedicated to her.

Built in the magnificent Portuguese- Manueline architectural style, the interiors are more Corinthian in style while the exteriors are in the Tuscan style of architecture. At 250 feet, Se cathedral stands quite tall and the front structure itself stands at height of 115 feet. The biggest attraction of this church is the Golden Bell, which is the largest in the state and one of the best in the world. Located in Velha, Old Goa this church is open all days of the week and they are pretty cool about photography in the church. The original structure had two towers, out of which one was destroyed but never rebuilt.

In 1953, Se Cathedral was presented with “The Golden Rose” by Venerable Pope Pius XII. The Golden Rose which is actually a gold ornament, traditionally blessed by the Popes of the Catholic Church and conferred as a token of reverence or affection is placed on the tomb of St. Francis Xavier. Walk around the place and treat your art loving eyes to numerous ancient paintings or go to the Chapel on the right of the cathedral where a version of Christ apparently appeared in 1919.

 

Church of St Francis of Assisi
St-Francis-of-Assisi-Church-Old-GoaAddress: Off National Highway 4, Velha Goa, Goa 403110
Timings: For the Museum: 9.00 A.M – 12.30 P.M and 3.00 P.M to 6.30 P.M on all days.
 The Church: Mon to Sat – 7.30 A.M to 6.30 P.M
How to get there: Bus / Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

This beautiful church built in 1661 by the Portuguese is one of the most respected Roman Catholic churches in Goa. The beautifully done interiors have ornaments that are laid out intricately while the exterior shows a Barque and Corinthian architecture. The church houses a museum which displays many artefacts, paintings and also stunning sculptures which are a reminder of the rich lifestyle that existed in Goa many centuries ago. The church has neatly designed frescos with floral designs and intricately carved woodwork and the walls have several paintings that depict the life of the life of St Francis Assisi. The church is open all days except on Sundays.

 

 Church of Our Lady of Miracles

Our-Lady-Of-Miracles-(7)_originalAddress: Sanguem Rd, Sanguem, Goa 403704
Timings: 06:00 A.M – 09:00 P.M on all days
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

Built on the site where once there was an old Hindu Temple, this church is revered by both Hindus and Christians alike. Initially founded in 1594 this started off as a military chapel but it’s been reconstructed several times after that. The church is opens at 7a.m in the morning and closes at and 10a.m before reopening at 4p.m till 11p.m in the evenings. The best time to visit the Church is during the annual festival held 16 days after Easter and is celebrated by both Hindus and Christians. It pays to be part of such shared merriment and religious fervour between two diverse communities.

 

Chapel of St Catherine

Chapel-of-St-Catherine-in-Old-GoaAddress: North Goa, Goa 403110
Timings:  6:00 AM – 6:00 PM on all days of the week
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

The Chapel of St Catherine in Goa is one of a kind. Though it is quite small in size, the church is beautiful and awe inspiring. Built by the Portuguese governor in 1510 at a paltry distance of just 100m from the Church of St Francis of Assisi, it’s undergone a lot of modifications and finally in 1952, it was rebuilt. The interiors are simply elegant and the beautiful rectangular windows add character to the church. The rich historical significance of this church is substantiated by the stone slab inscriptions outside which stand as proof. In 1534 the chapel was granted cathedral status by Pope Paul III and subsequently it was rebuilt; the inscribed stone added during rebuilding states that Alfonso de Albuquerque actually entered the city at this spot, which used to be the main gate of the Muslim city, known as Ela.

 

Church of St Cajetan

St.Cajetan_churchAddress: Velha Goa, Goa 403402
Timings: 9 A.M – 5.30 P.M
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

The magnificent church of St Cajetan stands very close to the Viceregal Palace and Se Cathedral. The Church of St Cajetan was built by Italian friars of the order of Theatines with minor influences of Corinthian style of architecture and the name was derived from the name of the Theatine’s founder, St Cajetan who was a contemporary of St Francis Xavier.  The interiors are divided into two different sections that have many aisles and huge pillars. The church is said to have been greatly inspired from the original design of Basilica in Rome and built accordingly.

In 1643, when they were asked to leave Goa, the leader of the Italian friars travelled all the way to Portuguese ruler to convince him that together their work will further the interest of the Christian religion in Goa. Impressed by his passion and dedication, the King not only granted him permission to be in Goa but went on to build the church and a beautiful convent. There are a total of six altars that are carved and constructed with brilliant interiors and they have shafts that have pictures of angels on it. Traditionally, the church’s crypt housed the last mortal remains of deceased Portuguese governors, beneath the reredos, in lead coffins until they were shipped home to their final resting place. Forgotten for more than three decades, the last few were finally sent back to Lisbon in 1992.You can visit this church on all days of the week between 9 am and 12 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm.

 

Nossa Senhora de Penha de Franca

penha_de_franca_goaAddress: Britona Road, Bardez, Goa 403101
Timings: 8 A.M – 11 P.M on all days.
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

The Nossa Senhora de Penha de Franca is yet another architectural marvel that is among the most visited churches in Goa. If you love alluring interiors with high ceilings and stained glass windows, this church is where you should be heading. This church in Panjim Goa was built in commemoration of Saint Nossa Senhora de Penha de Franca who is said to have averted a dangerous scenario. It is said that on their journey to India, the Portuguese sailors would have been caught in a perilous situation but Saint Nossa Senhora de Penha de Franca averted the danger and saved the sailors. This parish church is located at the confluence of Mapusa and Mandovi rivers overlooking the Chorao Island and the Ribandar causeway. The church is open all days of the week from 8 in the morning till 11.30 at night. Take a walking tour to explore more.

 

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate ConceptionAddress: Rua Emidio Garcia, Panjim, Goa 403001
Timings: 10 A.M-12.30 P.M & 3-5.30 P.M from Monday-Saturday,  11 A.M-12.30 P.M & 3.30-5 P.M on Sunday
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

First built in the year 1541 this was actually a chapel to serve the religious needs of the sailors in India at that time. Later in 1609, it was enlarged and reconstructed to what is now the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Built in the Baroque style like several other churches of its time, the zigzag stairs that you see first was a later addition to the original structure. The church boasts the second largest bell in the state after Se cathedral and you can see the bell tower as you walk in. The best time to visit this church is during their annual festival in December when the church is completely illuminated.

 

Church of Lady of Rosary

Church of Lady of RosaryAddress: Caranzalem, Panjim, Goa
Timings: 9 A.M to 5.30 P.M on all days.
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Panjim

One of the earliest churches of Goa, the Church of Lady of Rosary is located to the west of Basilica of Bom Jesus. You will see two beautiful chapels and altars inside the church with the main altar dedicated to the Holy Mother. The moment you lay eyes on this church, the magnificent interiors and exteriors that look more like a fortress than a church will leave your architectural senses tantalised. Simplistically designed in the Manueline style, this church also has Gothic influences. Located in Gawli Wada, Margao, this church is open on all days from 9.30a.m in the morning till 5.30p.m in the evening and it is It is believed that upon his arrival in Goa,  St Francis Xavier gave his very first sermon here. The only decorative pieces that you will find outside the church are the rope twist devices and a roof that is built layers of tiles. You’ll also find the tombstone of one of Goa’s earlier governor called Garcia de Sa on the floor of the altar. Visit here for a quiet, reflective hour away from the hustle and bustle.

 

St. Alex Church

St. Alex ChurchAddress: North Goa, Near Don Bosco School, Bardez taluka, Calangute, Goa 403516
Timings: 9 A.M – 8:30 P.M on all days.
How to get there: Cab / Auto / Rental Bike from Calangute

One place that should definitely be on the itinerary of any church hopping tourist in Goa is the St. Alex Church. Built in 1597, on the site of an ancient Hindu temple in a small village in Calangute, this church is one of the oldest in the state. The exterior might fool into believing that there is nothing exceptional about this church, but the opulently gilded and decorated interiors will leave you gaping in surprise. There is a small but alluring lake in the backdrop, set amidst the village’s serene surroundings which make a visit to this church all the more better.

So there’s our list. Now remember one thing, you don’t have to be a believer to visit or appreciate a place of worship, it’s just a place that offers peace of mind, positivity and good energy. Keep your mind and eyes open and learn to appreciate the beauty and serenity of your surroundings, the history, craftsmanship and hard labour involved in building each of these great monuments that are the only remnants of the past.