Name The Other Church at Old Goa? The Church of Our Lady of Rosary

A short drive past the flying buttresses of the Santa Monica Convent and nestled into the edge of the cliff of the Holy Mount in Old Goa is the oldest surviving church in Goa.

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary was once one of the first ever spiritual structures constructed by way of the Portuguese on the grounds that they conquered Goa in 1510.

It’s place backyard the fundamental heritage precinct and away from the limelight skill that it has survived via the centuries extra intact than its counterparts. It is pretty contradictory that it receives minimal traveler footfall, it is arguably the most stunning of all the church buildings in the state, and the most necessary in the architectural scheme of matters in Goa.

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Alfonso de Albuquerque is stated to have vowed to construct a hermitage committed to Our Lady of the Rosary on the exact spot from where he learnt that his navy had taken over the city of Ela (Old Goa).

The hermitage was thus for that reason constructed by Antão Nogueira de Brito at some point of Albuquerque’s time period as viceroy. A few a long time later, the expand in Christianized natives in the location led to the want of a greater church.

Thus, the current chapel was expanded to a large church hence with work lead-off in roughly 1543. We get to know about this from an exchange of letters with the Confraternity and the then Portuguese King in around 1548-49 explaining that explaining that while their initial plan was to expand the original structure, they instead tore down its walls for need of a larger building. 

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Our Lady of Rosary was constructed around the same time as the different two parish church buildings of early Old Goa.

The Saint Catherine’s Cathedral the place the existing day Se Cathedral stands, and the Church of our Lady of Light. They all shared the same ideology, a central tower over the entrance and medieval like characteristics, stimulated from a good sized wide variety of Portuguese church buildings constructed in the same fashion in the preceding decades.

However, Our Lady of Light was demolished later and is totally untraceable today. The Saint Catherine Chapel gave way to the Cathedral we see today. This gives the church of Our Lady of Rosary the distinction of being the oldest remaining building of the Portuguese in Goa.


The Church has a single nave with a chancel terminating at the foremost altar committed to Our Lady or Rosary and having a star-form ribbed vault.

There are two side chapels as well with similar vaulting. The arches opening into the two side chapels are of different heights, with the epistle side chapel having a lower semi round arch.

Could it be that this space with its wall was the extent of the authentic chapel constructed by way of Albuquerque and whose dimensions and entrance arch were inherited?

It looks very not going though. The other possibility is that since the Church was constructed over a period of time, it might have been accomplished at a later stage and for simplicity a lower arch was selected.

Nonetheless, the interiors of the Church are stunning in its simplicity. One of the other highlights of the Church is the graffito work on its walls, though in want of serious restoration.

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The nave of the church is topped with a single tiled roof. Although it at the beginning had a ceiling which fell in 1897, damaging the chapels’ vaults.

The façade of the Our Lady of the Rosary church consists of a single three-story tower over its narthex, with cylindrical buttresses in the front corners and comparable cylindrical towers at the junction of the narthex and the nave.

The Southern cylindrical tower carries a staircase going up until the choir, while the northern tower includes the baptismal font. The front towers are topped by using cupolas and a cross.

The area of expertise of this sixteenth century shape lies in its medieval-like enormous sense, simplicity and Manueline ornamentation, a church like no other in Goa.

The star-form ribbed vaults above the chancels and altars, the twisted ropes at the cornices on the front and the Solomonic columns on the upper façade of the tower are all Manueline features.

The Manueline fashion originated in Portugal during the reign of the King of Portugal then, Dom Manuel I (1469-1521), after whom it was named.To celebrate the success of Portuguese sea fares across the continents, the style incorporated maritime elements like seaweed, coral, ropes, knots, etc in the building.

Paulo Varela Gomes in his comprehensive book – Whitewash, Red Stone describes how Our Lady of Rosary is a part of a larger scheme of things. The central tower over the narthex kind was a European medieval fashion and spread to Portugal by the 12th and 13th century.

The church in Goa has similarities to Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Elvas and the Parish church of Pedrogão Grande, each in Portugal. Our Lady of Rosary in Goa is for this reason world heritage.

A frequent false misconception about architecture in Goa is that it is ‘Portuguese’; mostly because of the ploys of tourism companies to sell more on their brochures but also partly due to ignorance.

However, the towering the front façade of this church with its fort-like look in accordance with its counterparts in Portugal and its Manueline ornamentation means that this is the only piece of architecture that could stylistically be called Portuguese in the whole of Goa.

It exhibits these characteristics since it was designed during the early Portuguese period in Goa before any specific Goan interventions came into the picture. Much of the rest of the architecture we see post the early Portuguese period are really a mixture of styles but above all, more Goan than anything.

Our Lady of Rosary is one of the most valuable architectural gem of Old Goa. It was a wonder right from its initial years, being the first church that greeted everybody coming into the town via the Mandovi.

It has stood for centuries; numerous generations have come and gone, rulers have changed, however the church nevertheless stands defiantly overlooking the river simply like it used to 450 years ago, mostly unchanged.

A wave of Portuguese antiquity sweeps over as you set foot on its site, evoking robust emotions about the roots of our identity, which this church, thinking about its age and context, has virtually performed a massive phase in.

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