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Meet Old Goa, Rome of the East

Duration: Full Day

meet old goa, rome of the east

Step back in time during your holiday in Goa as you spend a memorable day exploring Old Goa on the banks of the Mandovi River. This historic part of Goa, India’s smallest state, was under the rule of the Portuguese Empire for 450 years and it is often described as 'The Rome of the East'. Now listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is famous for its beautiful convents, churches and cathedrals, some of which date back to the 16th century. This fascinating cultural tour will enable you to see some of the best examples of Portuguese colonial architecture in India.

The history of Old Goa actually dates back to the 3rd century BC when it formed part of the Mauryan Empire. After changing hands numerous times over the centuries, the city was finally taken over by the Portuguese in 1510, led by Alfonso de Albuquerque who was determined to take control of the spice route from the East. The fortunes made from the spice trade led to Goa's “golden age” and the rise of the largest city in the East.

Old Goa was the Portuguese colonial capital of Goa until 1845. When the city was struck with disease and death, the capital was moved down the river to Panaji (otherwise known as Panjim). The town finally gained independence from the Portuguese in 1961. Visitors are drawn to the area because of its unique cultural heritage and beautiful historical architecture, which includes many churches, cathedrals, museums and monuments.

This tour will reveal some of the highlights such as Se Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Asia, and the Basilica of Bom Jesus, one of the most beautiful churches in Old Goa and an excellent example of Baroque architecture in India. The church is dedicated to the infant Jesus and has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Monument. It is also particularly famous for enshrining the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa.

Other monuments of interest include the Convent of St. Monica, India's largest nunnery, and Viceroy's Arch, built by Viceroy Francisco da Gama, the grandson of Vasco da Gama. There are also many other historical monuments, churches and ruins scattered throughout the town which are well worth visiting.

We will also make a visit to the current capital of Panaji. Once a small fishing village, this charming town is now the educational, commercial and cultural centre of Goa. You will see a wide range of enchanting colonial villas and beautiful buildings here, many of which were built in Portuguese Baroque style. The paved squares and narrow cobbled streets, lined with quaint old taverns, cafés and old houses with red-tiled roofs and protruding balconies, are reminiscent of any small Portuguese town.

The day ends with a sunset cruise down the Mandovi River, where you will be entertained with singing and dancing from professional dance troupes as the sun goes down. This unforgettable tour will give you a wonderful insight into Goa’s rich heritage.

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