Old Goa revisited

09th December 2010
We had a lovely day today (although hot and muggy again) revisiting the ancient city of Old Goa. It is an impressive series of churches, monastries and convents, some intact and some in ruins. Built in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Portuguese, it had a population of several hundred thousand in its heyday and was Goa's capital until it was virtually abandoned from the 17th century onwards because of recurrent malaria and cholera epidemics. The main attraction is the tomb of St Francis Xavier in the Cathederal of Bom Jesus; however we explored a whole series of sites around the area which we had not seen on previous visits. These more obscure sites did not draw the crowds and consequently were a pleasant respite. In fact there was a pervading sense of quiet about the whole area although its history reeks of exploitation, The Inquisition and all sorts of horrors. However, seemingly many Hindus come to the Catholic religious festivals that are held here during the year and they revere the sites as holy, despite the history.

The interior of the Basilica of Bom Jesus

Outside the crowds took the obligatory snaps to mark the occasion but this sleeping dog had clearly seen it all before.

The Se (or St Catherine's) Cathedral. The forecourt of which was apparently the scene of many Inquisition torturings and burnings of 'heretics'. The bell rang while we were there and it had the deepest tone I have ever heard; rather foreboding in the hot tropical sun.

One touching scene was a simple garland of flowers (a hindu symbol) and other decorations on the locked doors of the abandoned church of Our Lady of the Mount.

And finally one abstract of an awning that was part of the decorations of the Festival of St Xavier on the 3rd of December and which was in the process of being dismantled while we were there (so I had to be quick!).

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