Old Goa (Goa Velha)
Goa was a Portuguese colony from the early 1500s right up to the 1960s, when the state gained independence. Old Goa, or Velha Goa in Portuguese, was first established by the ruling Bijapur dynasty then captured by the Portuguese when they arrived in Goa. It served as the capital of Portuguese India for two hundred years (from the 1600s to 1800s) until a severe outbreak of the bubonic plague (among other diseases) led the inhabitants to abandon the city and set up Panaji as the capital instead.
At its height, Old Goa had some 200,000 inhabitants and was an important international trading post. This illustrious past can be seen in the grand buildings including the red-brick Basilica of Bom Jesus. Other highlights include the huge white stone St. Catherine’s Cathedral, known as the Sé, and the Museum of Christian Art. Visitors can book a guided walking tour to learn more about this interesting historic site.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Basilica contains the remains of missionary Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa.
- Entry to the Museum of Christian art is via paid ticket.
- There are stalls selling refreshments dotted around the site.
How to Get There
Old Goa is located 10 km (6 miles) away from the capital city, Panaji. It’s accessible by bus and taxi from Panaji, or as part of a pre-booked guided tour with transport provided.
When to Get There
The months of October to March are the most popular times to visit Goa. April and May are typically very hot and humid, while June to September is monsoon season, where heavy downpours are frequent.
Explore Panaji’s Fontainhas District
The lasting influence of the Portuguese in Goa can be clearly seen in Panaji. Head to the Fontainhas District where you’ll find pastel-colored buildings with balconies and cobbled streets that would not be out of place in Lisbon. Some buildings even have Iberian-style azulejos tiles in a classic Portuguese palette of blue, white, and yellow.