While Goa usually represents beaches and parties, it’s a unique state in India. Though the rest of the country was mainly colonised by the British, Goa was under Portuguese rule for almost 450 years. This has resulted in the smallest state of India boasting some of the richest histories, with numerous ancient sites wrapped in their century-old culture and stories. So, come and discover Goa’s rich heritage with our list of the 10 best heritage sites of Goa.

Think Beyond Beaches And Hop Onto A Heritage Tinged Tour Of Goa

1A Baroque Gem: The Basilica Of Bom Jesus

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Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa

Also known as St Francis Xavier’s tomb, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim, about 10 km away from Panjim. It is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (Churches & Convents of Goa) and is dedicated to Goa’s patron saint St Francis Xavier, whose remains can be found here. One of the highlights of visiting the basilica is to view his body, still preserved despite it being over 450 years since his death. Visitors are known to stand in line for hours just to get a glimpse of his body, or to touch it and kiss his feet. In his honour, the feast of St Francis is celebrated here every year, read more interesting things about it in our article on must-see festivals and events in Goa. It was constructed during the period of 1594 to 1605 and is known to be the first minor basilica in India. The church is called ‘Bom Jesus’ meaning ‘good Jesus’ or ‘infant Jesus’ and is regarded as one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Goa.

Visiting hours: Mon-Sat 9 am – 6:30 pm, Sun 10 am – 6:30 pm

Entry: Free of cost

2One Of The Largest Churches In Asia: Se Cathedral

Heritage Sites In Goa
Exterior view of Se Cathedral, a historic church of Portuguese era, located in Old Goa

After visiting Bom Jesus you can hop on across to Se Cathedral opposite the Basilica. It’s considered one of the largest churches in Asia and is also known as Sé Cathedral de Santa Catarina. This majestic white beauty is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria and also known to be the oldest and the most celebrated religious buildings in Goa. The construction of this church began during the 1562 and was completed in 1619. It is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (Churches & Convents of Goa) and is an important centre of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman.

Visiting hours: 7:30 am – 6 pm on all days

Entry: Free of cost

3Impressive Defensive Walls: Reis Magos Fort

Heritage Sites in Goa
Drone View of Reis Magos Church in Goa, India

Located on the northern bank of river Mandovi across the city of Panaji in North Goa, the Reis Magos Fort was constructed in 1551 by Alfonso de Noronha. In 1707, it was rebuilt and served as a pivotal site acting as a defensive wall during the war between the Portuguese and the Marathas in 1739. The fort was briefly occupied by the British Army (between 1798-1813) and even served as a prison until 1993 when it was abandoned by the army. The Reis Magos Fort was restored by the Archaeological Survey of India and since 2012 it has been an integral part of Goa’s heritage tourism.

Visiting hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm on all days except Monday.

Entry fees: INR 50 per person for Adults, INR 25 per person for Students, INR 10 per person on Sundays and Goa Govt. Holidays and 0 Free entry for children below 8 years of age.

4Historical Ruins: Church Of St Augustine

Goan Heritage Sites
Augustine ruins in Old Goa, Goa state, India

Located in Panjim, close to the Nunnery of Santa Monica, The Church and Monastery Of St. Augustine was constructed in 1602 by Augustinian friars. A part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (Churches & Convents of Goa), it is considered as one of the biggest churches in Goa and an important tourist attraction in the state. Today, only the ruins of the front portion of the church and the magnificent tower remain. The dilapidated tower can be seen from a distance and one can gauge the grandiosity of the monastery when it was completely intact. 

Visiting hours: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri 6:30 am – 12:45 pm, 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Entry fees: Free of cost

5A Three-tier Facade: Church Of St Francis Of Assisi

Interior Of Church of St Francis of Assisi as seen from the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old Goa, India.

This is a  17th-century structure constructed by the Portuguese, a famous Roman Catholic Church that is also the oldest church located in Panjim. Built-in 1661 by eight Portuguese Franciscan friars, the church is said to have originated as a small chapel but was later modified to a church in 1521. The church’s three-tier facade has octagonal towers on each side and in the central niche is a statue of St. Michael. Contiguous to the church, the convent now houses a museum that was set up by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1964. The museum contains artefacts, paintings, and sculptures that testify to Goa’s rich and vibrant history.

Visiting hours: All days of the week except Sunday- 7:30 am – 6:30 pm

Entry fees: Free of cost

6One Of The Oldest Chapels In India: Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception Church

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The Panjim Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Old Goa, India

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is a colonial Portuguese Baroque style church which was first built in 1541 as a chapel on a hillside overlooking the city of Panjim. It was eventually replaced by a larger church, and today it is known to house the second largest church bell in Goa. The ancient bell is said to have been removed from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace that existed in Old Goa. True to its name, the façade of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church is painted an immaculate, sparkling white. Located in the Panjim conservation area, it is just 1.5 km from Panjim Kadamba Bus Stand and 29 km from Vasco Da Gama Railway Station.

Visiting hours: All days of the week except Sunday 9:00 am – 12:30 pm, 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Entry fees: Free of cost

7A View Of The Arabian Sea From Ruins: The Cabo De Rama Fort

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Ruins of Cabo De Rama Fort Goa

Located in the Canacona region of south Goa, on the beautiful coastline of Goa overlooking the gorgeous Arabian Sea, Cabo De Rama Fort is also known as the Cape of Rama. The fort derives its name from Rama, from the epic Ramayana as it is believed that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana lived in the fort during their 14-year exile. Originally constructed by the local Soonda rulers it was later rebuilt by the Portuguese in 1763 after they acquired it from the local kings. It was used as a military base by the Portuguese and later as a government prison till 1955. Today, this fort is in ruins but is a popular tourist attraction.

Visiting hours: 9 am to 5 pm on all days.

Entry fees: Free of cost

8Gothic Spires In India: Mae De Deus Church

Mae De Deus Church at Saligao, Goa

The Mae De Deus Church is also known as the Mother of God Church and is a breathtaking historical site with Gothic spires and pristine white walls. It’s known to be one of the best Neo-Gothic architectural styles and was constructed in 1873 by parishioners in Saligao in North Goa. A perfect spot to grab some peaceful minutes off the busy streets, you will fall in love with the attractive illuminations at night. It’s located about 13 km from Panaji, on the way to Mapusa.

Visiting hours: Every day from 9.00 am to 12.30 pm and from 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm.

Entry fees: Free of cost

9View The Mapusa River And Goa’s Landscapes: Corjuem Fort

Heritage sites
Ruins of Corjuem fort, located near Aldona town on the island of Corjuem, Goa state, India

Located in the village Aldona near the river Mapusa, the Corjuem Fort is an inland fort that was built in 1705. It’s one of the smaller forts in Goa but its small size is compensated by its prime location atop the island of Corjuem, North Goa. It used to be a military fortress for the defence of the Portuguese in India, and today it offers breathtaking views of the Goan landscape and the Mapusa river from its ancient ramparts. 

Visiting hours: Everyday  6:00 am – 7:00 pm

Entry fees: Free of cost

10A Well-preserved 17th-century Portuguese Fort: Aguada Fort

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Sunset from Fort Aguada, Candolim Beach, South Goa

Located approximately 18 km from Panjim next to Candolim beach, Aguada Fort is an epitome of Portuguese architecture. This grand fort was built in 1612 to prevent the entry of ships into the river Mandovi thus protecting old Goa from the Dutch and Marathas. The fort has a freshwater spring within its battlements, that provided water to the ships that would stop by. It’s also how the fort got its name ‘Agua’, the Portuguese word for water. Aguada Fort also boasts the first-ever lighthouse in Asia which was built in 1864.

Visiting hours: Everyday 9:30 am – 6 pm 

Entry: Free of cost

Your Key Takeaway From A Heritage Walk Through Goa

Ditch the nightlife to see a different side of Goa, one that has existed for thousands of years. Although, while enjoying these heritage sites in Goa, do keep in mind that these centuries-old structures need respect. Do not deface the historical properties by scribbling on the walls, or littering. These churches are places of worship, so be respectful of parishioners and be silent when visiting. While visiting these heritage sites in Goa please do maintain peace and decorum.

These historical and heritage-rich sites in Goa are a must if you are into history and architecture, and can also be enjoyed with friends and family. If you want to add a bit of the beach into the mix, take a look at the best beaches in Goa.

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