Magnificent churches, sumptuous buildings, stately mansions and broad streets once characterised 8 sq. km land. Among the many splendid buildings of Old Goa, the Se Cathedral (Cathedral of St Catherine) remains one of the greatest monuments of the period. It was completed in 1619 and till date is the largest Christian church in Asia. It has been built in Renaissance style. The Cathedral has 260 feet long aisle that culminates in a richly carved gilt altarpiece.
Within the compound of the cathedral lies the Church of St Francis of Assisi with a stucco ceiling and a plethora of carvings. The inner sides of the buttressed walls have been designed with frescos of intricate floral designs. These have been painted in a hybrid style combining Indian and European elements Another church that is worth visiting is the Church of St. Cajetan. With its two belfries and cupola in the centre, it was modeled on the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome by its Italian architect. Also near the river bank stands the Chapel of St. Catherine built on the site of the bitterest fighting during Albuquerque's conquest of Goa in the year 1510.
A few minutes' walk up the road from the basilica will lead the tourists to Monte Santo (Holy Hill). Here a haunted tower of the Church of the Augustinian Monastery is to be found. However once upon a time it was a splendid vaulted structure. Adjacent to the ruins stands the Convent of St Monica, once one of the largest nunneries in the Portuguese empire.
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is one of the earliest buildings in Goa. It represents a fusion of European and Indian elements; while the wall frescos reveal Hindu designs, those on the alabaster tomb of Dona Caterina, wife of the 10th viceroy, demonstrate the impact of the Muslim-Bijapur style.
Outside Old Goa lies Largo da Igreja, an impressive ensemble of a dazzling white-balustrade stairway in front of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It heightens the proportions of the baroque façade which dominates the square. In 1541 it was built as a sign of "home" for the sailors who made the long voyage from Lisbon.
Temples are a rare sight in the coastal areas. Yet some of them are situated in the mountainous regions. Shri Mangesh Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the Shanta-Durga, to goddess Parvati, and Nagesh Temples in the Ponda neighborhood are among the most frequented in Goa. The architectural styles of these shrines are ornate; they have baroque interiors with several storeys and elaborate lamp towers.
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