Churches and Convents of Goa

State of Goa
N15 30 7.992 E73 54 42.012
Date of Inscription: 1986
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Ref: 234
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The churches and convents of Goa, the former capital of the Portuguese Indies – particularly the Church of Bom Jesus, which contains the tomb of St Francis-Xavier – illustrate the evangelization of Asia. These monuments were influential in spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art in all the countries of Asia where missions were established.

The Churches and Convents of Goa is a serial property located in the former capital of the Portuguese Indies, which is on the west coast of India about 10 km east of the state capital Panjim. These seven monuments exerted great influence in the 16th to 18th centuries on the development of architecture, sculpture, and painting by spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist, and Baroque art and architecture throughout the countries of Asia where Catholic missions were established. In doing so they eminently illustrated the work of missionaries in Asia.

The earlier village of Ella developed into Goa (present day Old Goa) after it was taken over by the Portuguese, who designated this city as the capital for their occupied territories in Asia in 1730. Many royal, public, and secular edifices were built, as were many sumptuous and magnificent chapels, churches, convents, and cathedrals following the arrival of European religious orders such as the Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians, Dominicans, Jesuits, and Theatines. The surviving churches and convents in Goa are the Chapel of St. Catherine (1510), which was raised to the status of cathedral by Pope Paul III in 1534; the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi (1517; rebuilt in 1521  and 1661), with elements in the Manueline, Gothic, and Baroque styles; the Church of Our Lady of Rosary (1549), the earliest of the existing churches built in the Manueline style; Sé Cathedral (1652), with its Tuscan style exterior and Classical orders; the Church of St. Augustine (1602), a complex that fell into ruins, with only one-third of the bell tower standing; the Basilica of Bom Jesus (1605), with its prominent Classical orders; and the Chapel of St. Cajetan (1661), modelled on the original design of St. Peter’s Church in Rome.

The architectural styles followed those in vogue in Europe during the contemporary period, but were adapted to suit the native conditions through the use of local materials and artefacts. The buildings represent the roots of a unique Indo-Portuguese style that developed during Portuguese control of the territory, which lasted for 450 years until 1961. This long period deeply influenced the way of life as well as the architectural style of the place, which spread to missions beyond Goa, creating a unique fusion of Western and Eastern traditions.

Criterion (ii): The monuments of Goa, “Rome of the Orient”, exerted great influence from the 16th to the 18th century on the development of architecture, sculpture and painting by spreading forms of Manueline, Mannerist and Baroque art throughout the countries of Asia where Catholic missions were established.

Criterion (iv): The churches and convents of Goa are an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble which illustrates the work of missionaries in Asia. The wealth of the ensemble compares with the Latin American ensembles included in the World Heritage List (Cuzco, 1983; Ouro Preto, 1980; Olinda, 1982; Salvador de Bahia, 1985).

Criterion (vi):  At the Church of Bom Jesus, Goa conserves Saint Francis-Xavier’s tomb. Beyond its fine artistic quality (commissioned in 1665 by the Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany, it was executed in Florence and includes admirable bronze work by Giovanni Battista Foggini), the tomb of the apostle of India and Japan symbolizes an event of universal significance of the influence of the Catholic religion in the Asian world in the modern period.

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Panaji, also known in English as Panjim, is the capital city of the tiny state of Goa in India. It has its own charm, a river flowing along one side of the city, some areas which are low-rise and red-roofed, and even a Latin Quarter at the eastern end of town. Increasingly, it is shaping itself as a centre where cultures (many from around the globe, and from diverse areas of India too) meet and creativity flourishes. The nearest airport is at Dabolim, 35 km away. The nearest railway station is 1 Karmali (IR station code: KRMI), about 10 km to the east, but many express trains do not halt there. A more important railhead is Madgaon Junction, 45 km to the south, being the main junction on the Konkan Railway all trains stop here. From the railway station, taxis, rickshaws and buses go to Panaji, but if you are carrying only a backpack, motorcycle taxis are a bargain, plus you get to ride on the pillion seat!  [read more].

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