The pearl of the orient’- the smallest state in India, Goa is a gigantic blend of beaches, leisure, and art. Goa with its magnificent picturesque surroundings and Portuguese architecture in the Portuguese Colonies is a real treat for an avid traveler. Goa was under the rule of the Portuguese for 450 years. They entered Goa in the year 1498 and were the first amongst the Europeans to enter India. It was liberated to form a part of India on 19th December 1961.

As architecture mirrors the local material and power, as well as the socio-cultural pattern, we can observe a great deal of Portugal’s influence in the local structures of Portuguese Colonies. The Goan vernacular architecture (Indo-Portuguese) ranges from the colossal Se Cathedral, the basilica of Bom Jesus in old goa to small local houses in Fontainhas.


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Fontainhas. Source-

The fountain has is the oldest Latin Quarter in Goa, within the busy streets of Panjim. Fontainhas has the Ourem Creek to its east and Altinho hill to its west. The name Fontainhas is derived from ‘Fonte Phoenix’ or the ‘Fountain of Phoenix’ -a water reservoir constructed during the time of the Portuguese. In the late eighteenth century, a Goan expatriate named Antonio Joao de Sequeira established Fontainhas. The name came from a spring at the foot of the hill which began to sprout around 1770. One can observe the appealing 18th-century Portuguese architecture with one glance at Fontainhas. The houses in the area of Fontainhas range from colossal villas to small houses. Each house has a plate on the gate displaying the name of the owner and house number, and each plate is a piece of artwork, each one more beautiful than others. The houses are a magnificent sight with effortlessly merging strong and stable structure and seamless beautiful colored walls in the elevation of the houses. The prominent eye-catching feature throughout Fontainhas is the color palette. Houses are colored in different colors namely, mauve, mustard, deep ochre, pink, orange, yellow, lemon green, and blue. One can observe distinctive door and window styles. Windows are ornamented with stucco moldings- a feature is widely observed in Portuguese architecture.

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Windows in Fontainhas. Source-

The houses and the lanes are kept very clean. During the Portuguese colonial rule, every resident was mandated by law to paint his house every year after the monsoons. This practice has been evolved into a tradition in local Goa homes of the Portuguese Colonies.

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Streets of Fontainhas. Source- www.travelplusleisureindia

One of the highlights of Fontainhas is the Chapel of St Sebastian. It was erected in 1880 at the southern end of the Fontainhas. It was traditionally the place for the annual street festival of the Feast of Our Lady of Livrament. An old well alongside a bright and colorful staircase highlights the vicinity of the chapel. The chapel is well preserved and is well known for its large crucifix. Earlier, it was in the palace of Adil Shah but was later located to this chapel when the Viceroy moved out to Cabo. A striking feature of the crucifix is the image of Christ created over it with eyes open. The Portuguese influence and subtlety of art are showcased here at Fontainhas on the outside, as well as in the interiors.

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Nameplates in Fontainhas. source-

Two other magnificent examples of Portuguese architecture in goa are-

Se Cathedral

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Se cathedral. Source-

The SéCatedral de Santa Catarina was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque. With the Portuguese-Manueline style of architecture, it has a Tuscan exterior with the Corinthian interior. The plan of the church is 76m by 55m. The frontispiece stands 35 m high. It had two towers, one of which collapsed in 1776 and never got rebuilt. The Se Cathedral’s tower houses a large bell known as the “Golden Bell” because of its rich tone.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

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Basilica of Bom Jesus. Source-

Being a Roman Catholic Basilica, it is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture and Portuguese Colonial Architecture in India, and also one of the seven wonders of Portuguese origin in the world. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is more than 408 years old.

Goa manages to encapsulate the amazing balance between the Technicolor celebrations with the serene and picturesque architecture.

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A colorful staircase. Source-

A firm believer of J.K Rowling’s famous quote, “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, the most inexhaustible source of magic”. Samruddhi Kulkarni is a 23 year old architect, an ardent reader, coffee enthusiast, loves to explore places and preserve them in her diary.