Goa is more than just beaches and parties. It is a gateway to the architectural relics of churches left behind by the Portuguese for us to adore. With wonderous heritage, religion, and even ghost stories tagged along, these often-overlooked churches deserve to be noticed. We all know about the Panjim church and the Basilica Bom Jesus. But you must drive down the untravelled lanes in Goa to see some charming yet stunning structures of history. Some are found on the road, some are cheek by jowl with residences, some stand in the middle of fields, or are perched on hilltops surrounded by forests waiting for you to find your way. Here are 12 offbeat churches we found trip worthy in Goa.
St Cajetan’s Church
Surrounded by greenery, this is undisputedly one of the most beautiful churches in Goa. The gracious 17th-century building stands in Old Goa. The church built in the Corinthian style, crowned with a big hemispherical dome, mimics St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
St Anthony's Church
This subtle yet stunning structure is situated in Siolim of North Goa surrounded by the Chapora river. Legends say the church was built by two merchants sailing from Portugal, who vowed to build a church where they landed after they were caught in a storm. The statue of St Anthony here is unique as it has the saint holding a serpent on a leash.
Standing with its gracious façade, Se Cathedral or Se Catedral de Santa Catarina in Old Goa is a famous landmark built in the Portuguese Manueline style. The church considered as the largest in the continent has an interior that overwhelms visitors with its sheer grandeur.
Church of Lady of the Rosary
Standing atop the Monte Santo (Holy Hill) while keeping a watch upon Old Goa, the church is unadorned yet beautiful. It is one of the only buildings today that reminisces Renaissance architecture, brought to Goa by the Portuguese. It is perhaps the most Portuguese of all the Goan churches carrying inscriptions on the conquest of Goa by Afonso de Albuquerque in 1510.
Church of St Francis of Assisi
Known for its Baroque and Corinthian architecture, this marvel is located at Velha Goa. The church’s interiors are beautifully decorated with numerous paintings and ornaments, alongside frescos and carved woodwork. Mind you, this is the only church with a museum containing artifacts and sculptures in Goa.
Three King’s Chapel
This subtly built church is located atop a hill in the Cansaulim village of South Goa. The benevolent view of the ocean and paddy fields from here is truly poetic. The otherwise uninhabited hill comes to life during the Three Kings Feast every year. Most interestingly, the locals believe the church is haunted, to the extent that it might actually be true.
Mae De Deus Church
Mae De Deus Church or Mother of God Church is a profound neo-gothic church in Goa. Located amidst the typical North Goa backwoods in Saligao, this gracious place of worship reminds tourists of fancy ancient castles. The illuminating church under the moonlight is a spectacle.
Our Lady of Lourdes Cave at the St Blaise Catholic Church
The St Blaise Church in Gandaulim, originally known as Sao Bras was a small chapel built in 1541 by Croatian sailors who settled in Goa. It was later built into a Parish Church in 1563. The structure today is one of the only buildings in the country with a Croat past.
Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount
The Portuguese constructed church is situated atop the Monte hill overlooking the expanse of the Mandovi River and the island of Divar. Built in the year 1510, it is among the oldest chapels here. The church's claim to fame, however, is the Monte Music Festival, a four-day celebration of Indian and Western music, hosted here.
Nunnery of Santa Monica
This gracious building stands atop the Monte Santo in Old Goa, like the grandeur of matriarch. It was a sanctuary for nuns, and widows, in the old days.
Ruins of the Church of St Augustine
Close to the Nunnery of Santa Monica stands the only surviving tower of the St Augustine’s Church. The ruins of what was once perhaps the biggest church in Goa offers a peek of history. Perhaps it is more intriguing to know that archaeologists discovered the remains of Georgian Queen Ketevan here.
Holy Cross Church
Located in cosy Cavelossim village, this Portuguese church built in 1763, is one of the most picturesque structures with appealing colours. Located on the banks of Sal River, one could go boating here to enjoy the pretty coast.