A small state located along the southwest coast of India, Goa is a favorite destination for visitors from around the world, who enjoy its tropical climate, active nightlife, gleaming white beaches, water sports, and relaxed lifestyle. Goa is also a treasure trove of architecture, unique because of the region’s rich history.
Goa looks out to sea, and the sea has always determined its destiny. From the time of its first settlement, Goa has been a trading port. Traders reached Goa from the ancient empires of India, Africa, and the Middle East, from the Roman Empire and the Han Empire of China.
Like all of India, Goa reflects ways of life that go back thousands of years. Many of its people fish, farm, trade, and travel much like their ancestors did. However, today's boats are likely to be carrying tourists.
The twin towers of Our Lady of Good Hope Church grace the skyline of Candolim, Goa. The first Catholic church on this spot was built in 1560, and this building was completed in 1667.
One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Goa is the Basilica of Bom Jesus (1605). The church contains the remains of St Francis Xavier, a Roman Catholic missionary who evangelized in Asia during the 16th century.
Inside the Basilica of Bom Jesus a golden altar towers over the sanctuary and guards the remains of St Francis Xavier. The grandiose Baroque architecture projects not only Catholic piety but also Portuguese power and wealth.
The Asian spice trade drew the Portuguese to India and kept them there, and some of their descendants are still in the spice business. Many people in Goa have Portuguese names, and their culture is a blend of Indian, European, African, and Southeast Asian elements.
Goa's cuisine is as cosmopolitan as its culture, with strong influences from India, Asia, and the Mediterranean. Colorful open-air markets exist alongside modern supermarkets.
Goa exerts the same appeal as all of India in its glowing colors and costumes, its rich traditions, its polyglot of languages and ways of life. But Goa has additional layers of European baroque architecture, 1960s counterculture, and modern eco-tourism that make it unlike any other place in India or the world.
Goa continues to be a destination for Christian pilgrims and an important center of the Christian faith in India. Although Christianity is no longer the majority religion, most of the churches are still open for worship.
This mural by Mario Miranda joyously illustrates the energy and optimism of today's Goa. Its political and religious traditions have created a multicultural society with a young, educated population that continues to reach out to the world.