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UNESCO sites in Goa

Goa's capital Velha Goa, also known as Old Goa is a cultural treasure chest, with so many spectacular buildings to explore that it was once known as the Rome of the East.


Of particular interest are its churches and convents, which combine to gain UNESCO World Heritage status. Read on to find out more about the buildings that also qualify for UNESCO protection, which are all worth visiting on your holiday.


Church of our Lady of the Rosary

Built in 1543, this is the oldest church in Old Goa.

From the outside it looks like a fortress with round towers, while inside is a tranquil haven. Highlights include an ornate alter-piece dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and intricate Portuguese, Persian and Indian style paintings and wall-carvings.

Se Catedral of Goa

The Cathedral of Goa is a magnificent 16th-century masterpiece built by the Portuguese, which was expressly designed to showcase their wealth and power. The cathedral has five bells – including the mellow sounding Golden Bell – eight chapels and opulent interiors filled with carvings and gilded decorations.

Basilicia of Bom Jesus

Meaning the Basilica of Holy Jesus, this church is venerated as it's home to the holy remains of Saint Frances Xavier. This Jesuit monument was consecrated in 1605 and is so spectacular that in 2009 it was ranked as one of the seven wonders of Portuguese origin in the world.

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi

Built by Franciscan monks in 1521 and re-designed in 1661, this church features an intricately carved Manueline style door depicting Portuguese discoveries and successes. There's an amazing gilded altar-piece dating from the 17th century, alongside several paintings that depict the life of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Chapel of Saint Catherine

This chapel appears simple and unassuming on the outside, but was granted cathedral status in 1534 by Pope Paul III. Inside is a stunning partly-gilded altar with life-size carvings of holy figures. It stands on the site of what was once the main gate into the ancient Muslim city of Ela.

Ruins of the Church of Saint Augustine

The Church of Saint Augustine and its sister convent were built by Roman Catholic Augustinians in the late 16th century. It's known that the church was large and had two tall towers, which were five floors high, although what remains today are the impressive ruins of the bell tower.

Church of Divine Providence also known as Saint Cajetan

Founded by the Roman Catholic Theatine order in 1639, this religious complex includes a church and a convent. The layout of the buildings forms a Greek style cross, while the architecture and interiors are superbly preserved. Here you can see some of the best examples of Corinthian architecture in the region.

Other places of interest to visit in Goa

There are also several non-UNESCO sites in the Goa region that you may wish to visit for their beauty or history. Below are three interesting options you should consider.

Mangeshi Temple, Ponda

Under 40 minutes' drive from Old Goa, in Ponda, you'll find this superb Hindu temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It's a stunning example of exquisite Hindu temple design, featuring a beautifully painted facade with carved turrets and gleaming domes. What's more, the entire temple is surrounded by lush gardens.

Reis Magos Fort, Bardez

This 16th-century fort sits on the banks of the Mandovi River and was originally a stopping point for Portuguese officials on their way between Goa and Lisbon. During its history it's been a residence for Viceroys, a fortress and a prison.

Shantadurga Temple, Ponda

This brightly coloured and ornate Hindu temple is a 45-minute drive from Old Goa and is an active place of worship for Ponda locals. Dedicated to the Goddess Shantadurga, there is a beautiful statue of the Goddess inside and a serene and sacred atmosphere throughout.

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