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A visit to Goa is incomplete without seeing the beautiful churches here. Goa’s tryst with history is unmistakable. The famous churches in Goa stand testimony to the grand past of the fun capital of India. These architectural marvels came into being during the Portuguese regime in Goa that spanned across several centuries. The distinct influence of the Portuguese architecture in these churches is simply amazing. Monumental in stature, these structures are of religious, cultural and historical significance.
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Each church was built with a purpose apart from being a place of worship. The Catherine of Alexandria for example, was built in celebration of the Portuguese victory of the Persian Army. The Basilica of Bom Jesus encloses the mausoleum of St. Francis Xavier. The Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi convey the secularism of Goa during the time given that there are portrait paintings of the Hindu God Vishnu.
1. Bom Jesus Basilica
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Being a UNESCO heritage site, this church is world renowned to still host the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The interesting thing about the saint’s mortal remains is that it is extremely well preserved. Even today, thousands of visitors throng the church to witness this miracle. A Jesuit church amongst churches in Goa, this structure is considered to be amongst the finest representations of Baroque architecture. The church is located in Old Goa.
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The exact location is Near Gandhi Circle, Old Goa Rd, Velha Goa. There are no rules to taking photographs. If you want to take a walking tour, many resorts arrange visits to this church walking tour companies such as Cholta Cholta offer comprehensive walking tours of this church including many other sightseeing attractions.
Best time of the day to visit is on a Sunday 10.30 am to 6.30 pm and on Weekdays 9.00 am to 6.30 pm
Mass: Sunday 8.00 am to 9.15 am
Mass: Weekdays 7.00 am to 8.00 am
2. Se Cathedral
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This church is one of the largest in India whilst being amongst the famous churches in Goa too. Being one of the oldest in the country, the Se Cathedral was built to celebrate the victory of the Portuguese ruler Afonso de Albuquerque for capturing a Goan city in 1510. Given that the day when the enemies were vanquished was also the feast of St Catherine, this church was built commemorating her. Displaying a Portuguese-Manueline architectural style, the church has Tuscan exteriors and Corinthian interiors. Inside the church, there is a large bell called the Golden Bell – which is the largest in the state.
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The church is located in Velha Goa. The church is open on all days of the week from 7.30 in the morning to 6 in the evening. The church has no rules regarding photography. A walking tour with Cholta Cholta is recommended.
3. Church of St Francis of Assisi
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This church is amongst the revered Roman Catholic churches. Known for its Barque and Corinthian architecture, the church’s interiors are finely inlaid with ornaments. On the tabernacle reside two statues – one of the Christ and the other of St. Francis of Assisi. Inside the church, the gilded interiors are beautifully decorated. There are numerous paintings depicting the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The carved woodwork and frescos are also exquisitely done.
There is a museum inside the church containing artifacts, sculptures, and paintings. This is one amongst churches in Goa that has items which are a testimony to a rich and thriving culture that thrived in this land several centuries ago.
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The church is located in North Goa, Goa, Velha Goa. The church is open on all days except on Sundays. Timings are between 7.30 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening. There are many tour operators providing Old Goa walking tours. In such walking tours, you have the opportunity to visit this church in addition to visiting other churches.
4. Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
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This is one of the oldest and most famous churches in Goa. The 17th century structure is in the heart of Panjim – the capital of Goa. The church has a simple and elegant exterior. The interiors are tidy and well-maintained. There are two altars within – one dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary and the other to St. Peter. The Xavier’s Chapel is within the church and is an added attraction. Thousands of devotees visit this church on the day of the feast. This church is of religious and historical significance. It is a landmark structure in the capital city.
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It is located at Church Square, Panaji and is open on all days of the week. The timing in the Mornings – 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm to 7.30 pm Afternoon. This church much like the others is photographer friendly. If you plan on a walking tour, Cholta Cholta and several other walking tours operators conduct regular walking sessions to this church
5. Church of St. Cajetan
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Considered to be amongst the most beautiful churches in Goa, the Church of St. Cajetan resembles the St. Peter’s Church in Rome. Built with laterite blocks, the church has influences of Corinthian style of architecture. The tower is rectangular and the interiors are divided into different sections. Each section has several aisles and flanking them are massive pillars. The wooden pulpit is decorated beautifully and the main altar is dedicated to the Holy Mother. There are numerous pictographic and sculptural depictions of the holy family. Some elements of the interior architecture are crafted in the Baroque style. All of this culminates into a visually stunning church.
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This church is located in Velha, Goa. You may visit the church on all days of the week 9.00 AM to 12.00 PM in the morning and 4.00 PM to 7.00 PM in the evening. If you want to take a walking tour, there are many tour operators organizing walking tours to this church and several other churches.
6. Chapel of St. Catherine
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This is essentially a Christian ecclesiastical church and the first one of its kind to be built in Goa. Although small, the church is very elegant; this church was built by the Portuguese governor in 1510. Built in commemoration of St. Catherine, the church underwent subsequent modification before being finally rebuilt in 1952. The chapel is simplistic in its interior design. Rectangular window panes are an omnipresent characteristic of the interiors.
The church’s history dates back to the year when the Portuguese started to rule Goa. There is an inscription on a stone slab in the church premises which essays this fact. This church is definitely historically significant given that it existed during those glorious years of conquest and reclamation.
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Located in Velha Goa, this church is open on all days of the week and is photographer friendly. Check with Cholta Cholta walking tours operators
7. Church of Lady of Rosary
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This church is located to the west of the famous Basilica of Bom Jesus. Built of laterite and lime mortar, there are two chapels and altars inside the church. The main altar is built in commemoration of the Holy Mother. On first glance , the interiors and exteriors of the church resemble a fortress church. This is because of the windows adjoining the roof and round shaped towers give this impression. Although built incorporating the Manuline style, there are Gothic elements in the design as well. There is a marble cenotaph that exhibits the wedding details of Dona Catarina with Garcia Sa who was the viceroy at that time.
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The church is located in Gawli Wada, Fatorda, Margao. The best time to visit the church is from 9.30 in the morning to 5.30 in the evening on all days.
8. Monte Hill
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This church is located to the southeast of Sat Burnzam Ghor. Situated atop a hill, you reach this church after ascending the Monte Hill. A simple and elegant white-washed structure, this church commands a place amongst the churches of Goa for its exotic location. As you reach the church, the plain-faceted exterior of this structure beckons you. Given that this hill is Margao’s highest point, when you get here you get panoramic views of the surrounding regions. There is another church in the vicinity dedicated to Calcada de Nossa Senhora de Piedad. This entire region is ideal for a short picnic and is Padre Miranda Rd, Monte Hill, Margao
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The church is open all days of the week except on Sundays. Timings are generally between 7 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening. If you wish to take a walking tour, many church walking tours are organized by leading tour operators
9. Chapel of St. Francis Xavier
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This church is one of the oldest most famous and most popular churches in Goa. It holds the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and the first example of baroque architecture. St. Francis Xavier was a revolutionary Spanish visionary who contributed immensely to missionary works in Portuguese ruled India. The amazing fact is that his mortal remains are still intact. This church receives visits from people from all over the world to view this wonderful spectacle.
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The church is located Near Gandhi Circle, Old Goa Rd, Velha Goa. The church is open on all times of the day. The Best time to visit is in the mornings between 10 and 11 or in the evenings before 7. Much like the other churches, this church is photographer friendly. Walking tours can be opted for.
10. St. Alex Church
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The St.Alex Church is a massive church built by local village communities in 1741. The Grotto in the church yard dedicated to Our Lady is the first such Grotto amongst all churches in Goa. The highlights of the church are its dome and two towers. The dome is flanked by seven altars. Numerous feasts are held at the church. Some of the most popular ones are Feast of St. Alex, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. An interesting aspect of this church is that it was built on the site of a Hindu temple. Called the Ravalnath, the remains of this temple can be still seen on location.
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The church is located in Curtorim, SalcettaTaluka, South Goa. The church is open on all days of the week between nine in the morning to eight thirty at night. Cholta Cholta organises such church walking tours
11. NossaSenhora de Penha de Franca
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Goa is a state that possesses some of the most beautiful churches in the world. This church is yet another architectural marvel and is amongst the most popular churches in Goa. If the high vaulted ceiling intrigues you so will the beautiful interiors with stained glass windows. The church is built in commemoration of Saint NossaSenhora de Penha de Franca. He is believed to have averted a possibly dangerous situation for Portuguese sailors on their voyage to India. There are many churches in the world dedicated to NossaSenhora de Penha de Franca. Further, also one can find out many more best places to visit in Goa
This church is one among five of them. There are numerous places to visit nearby. The scenic town of Britona is within walking distance. You can see the confluence of two rivers namely the Mandovi and Mapusa here.
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This church is located in Panjim Goa Open on all days of the week from 8 AM the morning to 11.30 at night. Patron can contact Cholta Cholta walking tours.
12. Church of Our Lady of Miracles
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Dedicated the Our Lady of Miracles, this church started off as a military chapel and is one of the most popular churches in Goa. Built by the Portuguese government, this church once collapsed before being rebuilt. By 1977, the old church was completely demolished and in place a new church was erected. Located in Sanguem, and dedicated to Our Lady, the highlight of this church is the praise and worship program on Friday. Many people have experienced miraculous healing at this church as well. Visited by people of all religions and communities, on the day of the Holy Feast, devotees are seen thronging the church with garlands and candles seeking the blessings of the Holy Mother. Best time of the day to visit.
This church is open on all days of the week between 7 to 10 in the morning and 4 to 11 during the latter half of the day, If you wish for a walking tour, Cholta Cholta organizes walking tours to some of the most popular churches in Goa.
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The churches depict the rich cultural heritage of Goa. Most of them were built during the prime years of the Portuguese rule in India. The architecture of these churches has inspired the construction of many churches not only in India but in other parts of the world too. A visit to these churches inspires and amazes everyone.