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Fontainhas Latin Quarters in Panjim & The Gateway To Another World

If you see Goa as solely a hippie location with picturesque beaches, low-cost alcohol and, extra recently, controversy over bikinis, then go to the state once more to discover Fontainhas. 

Image Source: architecturaldigest.in 

Close to Goa’s capital city of Panaji is a neighbourhood (latin quarters) that enjoys a connection with the East African country of Mozambique.  
 
Situated between the foot of Altinho hill and Ourem creek, Bairro das Fontainhas, or simply Fontainhas, has retained its old-world attraction for more than 250 years, which is genuinely seen in its architecture, delicacies and the testimonies that dot its landscape. 

This story of this quaint neighbourhood goes back to the mid-18th century CE when Goa was dominated by the colonial Portuguese. They had settled in Goa in 1510 CE and, over the subsequent couple of hundred years, the numbers of Portuguese colonies had expanded all over the world. 

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At the time, many Goans were shifting to different Portuguese colonies in search of a better future. Among these adventurous Goans was Antonio Joao de Sequeira, who headed to Mozambique to seek better prospects, in the 18th century. 

Antonio grew to become a successful businessman however he came back to Goa in the 1760s, to live a quiet, retired life.  
 
This was once a time when epidemics such as malaria and cholera had been sweeping throughout Goa.  
 
To keep away from falling prey to sickness, Antonio used his fortune to rent a quiet and picturesque vicinity nestled between Altinho Hill and Ourem creek, close to present-day Panaji, and transformed it into a coconut plantation. He named it ‘Palmeira Ponte’. 

Image Source: tourmyindia.com 

Palmeira Ponte grew as a hub of local industry, the place where the people had been engaged in coconut farming, fishing and oil extraction.  
 
The residents nicknamed Antonio ‘Mossmikar’, which means ‘prosperous resident returning from Mozambique’. Before his dying in the 1790s CE, Antonio passed over the land he had leased to the Carmelite nuns of the Convent of Our Lady of Carmo at Chimbel. 

Meanwhile, in the early 19th century, plague was once taking an exceptional toll on the people of Goa and the scenario in Goa Velha was worsening.  
 
The Portuguese administration, therefore, shifted their capital to Nova Goa, which is present-day Panaji.  
 
With greater authorities’ enterprises and the residences of directors and officers being shifted to the site of the new capital city, the demand for greater residential areas increased. 

So, the Portuguese bought Palmeira Ponte from the Carmelite nuns and developed it between 1810 and 1819. It done in such a hurry that the improvement used to be haphazard.  
 
To this day, one can see streets coming out of nowhere, main to even tinnier streets, and disease in the way the homes are arranged. 

Also, the place was named ‘Fontainhas’ after a spring called the ‘Fonte da Fenix’ or the ‘Fountain of Phoenix’ that was converted into a well by the Portuguese when they settled the area.  
 
The spring can be seen today as you proceed to the Maruti Temple in the Mala area. 

While it was being settled, Fontainhas was introduced to the 15th century CE Portuguese art of hand-painted ceramic tiles called Azulejos, which is still practised here. The tiles are decorated with intricate, colourful artwork. A new law also required every resident to paint their house after the monsoon, a practice that continues to this day, accounting for the colourful streets in this neighbourhood. 

Interestingly, the streets at Fontainhas are associated with some amazing stories. The Rua 31 de Janeiro is named after the day Portugal got independence from Spain, on 31st January 1640 CE. Similarly, the 18th June Road is named after Goa Revolution Day, when nationalists Juliao Menezes and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia launched a civil disobedience movement on that day in 1946. It eventually led to the liberation of Goa from the Portuguese in 1961. 

After Goa’s liberation, when the pace of urban development increased to make way for new residential buildings, the mansions and homes in Fontainhas were displaced, raising an alarm for its residents. In 1974, Fontainhas was declared a conservation zone by the Government of Goa. In addition, the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulation 2010 marked 40 sites, monuments, houses and buildings in Panaji, including Fontainhas, for conservation purposes. 

Take a long and leisurely walk in the neighbourhood and revel in its history, its tiled roofs, wooden doors and balconies all tell a story as do the art galleries, homestays and restaurants that have come up in more recent times. And if you visit Goa in February, you can attend the Fontainhas Festival, which creates awareness about its rich heritage among the young generation. 

Surprises at the Fontainhas 

Buckle up your shoes and wear your hat because Fontainhas is best explored on foot. Travelling back in time while strolling among its narrow cobbled streets is a whole new level of experience. Drop your jaws at the old Portuguese houses that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. You can spot all kinds of hues like green, pale yellow, and blue, along with red-coloured tiled roofs, artistic doors, and overhead balconies. 

Here’s a chance for all the photographers and artists to fall in love instantly with the wide array of colours spread over the narrow, winding landscape. Apart from the traditional houses and cottages, you can also visit the cute little cafés and bakeries that are over 100 years old dotting the streets of Fontainhas. The most significant fact about this place is that the houses are painted every year after monsoons. This rule was laid out by the Portuguese, which is sincerely being followed even today. 

St. Sebastian’s Chapel 

Soak up in the local atmosphere and get drenched in the historic beauty. One of the significant attractions of the Fontainhas is the most beautiful and emblematic Chapel of St. Sebastian. It attracts tourists with its pristine white exterior, which is a great contrast to the colourful neighbourhood. On sliding into the building, you will spot excellent artworks- a crucifix, and a statue of the Virgin Mary. 

Image Source: tripadvisor.co.uk 

Amazing Art Galleries 

With beautiful street arts, murals and painting-like views, the place itself is a tremendous artwork, to which an icing on the top is the Gitanjali art gallery. Situated next to the heritage hotel, Panjim Inn, this art gallery offers a huge display of contemporary art and a collection of Scandinavian art from the early 90s. Get amazed at the linocuts, etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, and serigraphs by the most skilled artists in the world. 

While artists enjoy the best time of their trip, this gallery also treats the reading minds. It hosts a great collection of poetry and book readings, art and theatre workshops, book launches, and courses on art, history, and film appreciation.  
 
Do not miss hitting the café in its premises where you can warm up with espresso as you browse the collection.  
 
Also, make sure to visit the famous Velha Goa Galeria to get your hands on the traditional hand-painted Azulejos. 

Maruti Temple 

Get some blessings from the Lord Maruti whilst you are in this place. Stop at the Altinho hill, overlooking the picturesque Mandovi River the place you can discover this Maruti Temple.  
 
This place, devoted to Lord Hanuman ensures to provide peace and serenity to its devotees. The calm environment and panoramic vistas of the Latin Quarter are so incredible that you need to no longer omit touring throughout your Goa trip. 

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Fountain of Phoenix 

If you go to the Maruti temple, the god will bestow you with some other lovely location close to the temple. Do no longer omit this “Double-Dhamaka”! This unmissable spot is the Fonte Phoenix (Fountain of Phoenix) that is placed proper subsequent to the Maruti temple. It is a sleek herbal spring that dates back to the Portuguese era. It holds the delight of deriving the title Fontainhas, due to the fact of its foundation and existence. 

Fontainhas during February 

If you are planning your Goa trip during February, be sure to attend the Fontainhas Festival. It is during this festival, art takes precedence where all the local residents turn their houses into art galleries. This art and cultural festival showcase the Goan heritage in addition to exciting music and dance events.  

How To Reach Fontainhas? 

Fontainhas is 25km from Goa International Airport and 20km from Tivim Railway Station. The Latin Quarter is best explored on foot, so carry comfortable footwear, and also rain gear if you are visiting during the monsoon. 

Where to stay? 

If you are looking for a stay at this place, great! You have come to the right website. You can choose from the number of accommodation options available for all pocket-sizes.  
 
Smell the scent of Portuguese luxury in one of the many Portuguese mansions here. 

Welcome Heritage Panjim Inn: 

Go back in time with the vintage-styled furnishers, antiques and authentic Goan hospitality. Opt for any of the standard, deluxe and superior rooms to live the life of Portuguese legacy.  
With lounge and restaurant facilities, this place is one of the best options in the Latin Square. 

Address: Panjim Inn, Fontainhas, Panaji, Goa, India,  

Contact: +91 0832 222 6523 

La Maison Fontainhas 

This boutique hotel has a crazy combination of exotic traditional charm and modern luxury. Stay at the place filled with beautiful furnishings, art pieces, and other mod cons. This property adds value with its on-site restaurant with a European fusion fare. 

Address: La Maison Fontainhas, 5/158, Near St. Sebastian Chapel Fontainhas, Mala, Panaji, Goa, India 

Contact: +91 0832 223 5555 
 

The Mitaroy Goa Hotel 

If you are a person of extravaganza and richness, Mitaroy Goa Hotel is the perfect choice for you. The luxurious hotel is outfitted with a minibar, balconies to enjoy views, en-suite bathroom and other exotic amenities. You can also carry your paw-some friends as this property is dog friendly 

Address: Mitaroy Goa Hotel, 31st January Road, Fontainhas, Panaji, Goa, India 

Contact: +91 094480 87708 

Other Hotels 

If you are a backpacker or a budget traveller, you can prefer the local B&B, Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho, Afonso Guest House and OLD QUARTER by the hostel crowd. 

Address: Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho,Rua De Natal, Fontainhas,, Panaji, Goa, India,  

Contact: +91 095277 78884 

Address: Afonso Guest House, No.173, Near St. Sebastian Chapel, Fontainhas, Mala, Panaji, Goa, India 

Contact: +91 0832 222 2359 

Where to eat? 

Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro on 18th June Road is one of the oldest bakeries in Fontainhas that serves traditional Goan sweets and savouries. Try fresh pao (bread buns) and also bebinca (traditional Goan layered cake). Contact: 08322225791 

Hotel Venite Restaurant on 31st January Road is a popular place for backpackers and tourists. The entrance is shell-encrusted and the walls of Venite restaurant are covered with graffiti art. Chicken steak in mushroom sauce is recommended. Contact: 08322425537, 985046700 

Baba Wood Café in Mala near the Maruti Temple serves Italian and wood-fire oven pizzas and home-made gelato. Contact: 0832-3256213; 08322421992 

Viva Panjim on 31st January Road is an award-winning restaurant in Panjim for its Portuguese and Goan food. Contact: 08322422405 

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