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Let's face it - Old Goa is the most quintessential touristy place in all of Goa. Old Goa is made famous by the grand and historic Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is also commonly called as Old Goa church. While this basilica is quite grand in itself, there are a lot more places to visit in Old Goa than just the famed Old Goa Church. What most tourists are unaware of is that Old Goa is a actually a hub of a plethora of sites - each an architectural and historical marvel in itself. So here's presenting a list of all the Old Goa attractions to help you plan out an itinerary for covering Old Goa in one day.
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How to Reach Old Goa
First, let's talk about how to reach Old Goa from Panjim city. Old Goa is located in close proximity to Panjim. The distance from Panjim to Old Goa is approximately 13 km. You can easily rent a bike or take a bus going from Panjim to Ponda and get down at Old Goa. Buses ply frequently from the Panjim KTC bus stand.
Old Goa Map of all Attractions
Old Goa Attractions: Places to Visit in Old Goa
When it comes to Old Goa attractions, most people are only aware of the Old Goa church and the museum location right opposite to the church. But there are lots more places to visit in Old Goa which most people aren't even aware of. So take a look at some of the offbeat and best Old Goa attractions besides the famous church.
1. Basilica of Bom Jesus
Named as "Bom" Jesus or "Good" Jesus, Basilica of Bom Jesus is a UNESCO world heritage site. The church itself is over 400 years old and is known to be an excellent example of baroque architecture in India. The Basilica holds the body of Saint Francis Xavier, who came to Goa as a missionary. The body is kept in a decorated casket on a high platform, which can be seen inside the Basilica. Moreover, once in ten years, the body of Saint Francis Xavier is brought down for public viewing. This Old Goa attraction is the most famous among all the places to visit in Old Goa.
2. Se Cathedral and Church of St. Francis of Assisi
Se Cathedral was built to honour the victory of the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque - a Portuguese general over a Muslim army, leading to the capture of Goa in 1510. Following that, in 1517, eight Portuguese friars landed in Goa and set up the Chapel of St. Francis of Assisi and an adjacent convent for them to reside to the west of Se Cathedral. A few years later, this chapel was constructed into a proper church and thus came to be known as the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. This area, much like all others in Old Goa, is quite well-maintained. The lawns are ever-green and decorated with colourful flowers year-round. You can either walk around here to enjoy the lawns or visit the museum inside to gain a little more knowledge on the Portuguese conquest of Goa.
3. St. Augustine Tower
Just a few hundred meters away from the Basilica of Bom Jesus, lies the iconic St. Augustine tower, one of the top places to visit in Old Goa. The tower is located in a complex which is in ruins. Look closely and you might recognise this tower from multiple Bollywood movie songs and action scenes. There used to be a bell in this tower which was removed and relocated to the Panjim Church - Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, where it still sits today. The best part about this area is that it's in close proximity to the Old Goa Church, yet there are only a select few curious souls that manage to make their way here.
4. St. Cajetan Church
Speaking of rarely visited attractions in Old Goa, St. Cajetan Church is high up on that list. This church is supposed to have been modelled after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Notice the similarity in the column structure of both the Basilicas. Moreover, the interior of this Church is just as impressive as the exterior. It's a shame that so many tourists come to visit the Old Goa Church yet almost all of them miss out on yet another great church located just a few hundred meters away.
5. Church of Our Lady of the Mount
I had to save the best Old Goa attraction for the last. Perched comfortably at the top of a hillock, this is where you should end your day trip to Old Goa. Setting the stage for a spectacular sunset view, the church overlooks three marvellous structures. From left to right we see the St. Augustine tower, Se Cathedral and finally the Church of St. Cajetan to the right. As the sun goes down and the sky takes up an orange hue, you'll find a few curious souls as well as some cheeky youngsters enjoying their evenings here.
6. Viceroy's Arch
The Viceroy Arch lies just a short walk away from the Old Goa church and a stone's throw away from the St. Cajetan Church. A long time ago, the arch used to be the main entrance to enter Old Goa. The church was built in the 14th century by Francisco da Gama, the great grandson of Vasco da Gama in his memory. It became a tradition for any newly elected Viceroy to pass through the arch and receive the keys to Old Goa, the former capital of Goa. This Old Goa attraction is a favourite among history buffs.
Hotels in Old Goa - Old Goa Residency
Since most people visit Old Goa while taking a day trip from Panjim, there are not a whole lot of hotels in Old Goa. However there is one hotel which is run by GTDC. Old Goa Residency is located quite close to all the Old Goa tourist places. There's a restaurant near the Divar ferry point called gene Garden. You can enjoy good food there along with river views to complete your stay in Old Goa. The major plus point of this hotel is it's proximity to the Old Goa attractions as well as the decent rates.
Places to Eat in Old Goa - Where to Eat
The problem with visiting a popular tourist place like Old Goa are the tourist traps. When it comes to eating in Old Goa, you'll only find one restaurant near the souvenir shops. What's more, the prices in this restaurant will b extremely high for the taste and quantity. Luckily, there's a great restaurant just nearby. Gene Garden is a restaurant in Old Goa located near the Divar ferry point. The restaurant is located on the river side with a cool breeze at all times, good taste and unbelievably cheap prices. Alternatively, you can even try out one of the many Panjim restaurants and cafes for lunch or dinner after visiting Old Goa.
Beaches in Old Goa
While teachnically there are no beaches in Old Goa, you will find a few beaches in the nearby Panjim city. Miramar beach, Siridao beach and Bambolim beach are some of the popular beaches in Panaji. If you're taking a day trip from Panjim to Old Goa then you can visit the Old Goa attractions in half a day then spend the evening at a beach in Panjim. Read this guide on the top things to do in Panjim city to know more.
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