Almost five centuries of Portuguese occupation in Goa resulted in the distinct beautification of a state that celebrates a heritage like none other. From the delectable, local cuisine to colonial villas, the Portuguese influence vividly lives on in Goa.
There is much to explore when it comes to unravelling the Portuguese spirit here, but nothing resonates the Latin soul of Goa than the cobbled streets of Fontainhas. So, come along on a storytelling journey and discover a colourful bygone era.
Wedged between the streaming Mandovi River and Altinho Hills, Fontainhas is the popular Latin quarters of Panjim city that takes you back to 18th century Portugal. The best way to explore this UNESCO accredited heritage zone is on foot, wandering through the by-lanes as you go along.
Begin your leisurely stroll from the Patto Bridge that connects the Fontainhas area with the Patto area over the Ourem Creek. From there, take a detour through the Fontainhas lane where you can marvel at the old Portuguese houses – the most distinctive reminders of Portuguese influence in Goa. Walking around Fontainhas, you will spot brightly coloured houses with arched gates flanked on either side of tiled streets, which is signature European architecture. These seemingly colourful contrasts make this area surreal and very picturesque.
Amidst the hues of reds and blues, you will come across one of the most emblematic architectural structures of Fontainhas – St. Sebastian Chapel. Standing firm with its pristine white exterior, the chapel is a small yet significant example of the outburst of baroque style architecture during the Portuguese rule. Built in the early 19th century, the chapel is home to many artefacts.
A few steps ahead, art aficionados will be fascinated to find the Gitanjali Art Gallery and Velha Goa Galeria. Be it contemporary art or traditional azulejos, these galleries are hosts to a variety of art collections. If you’re visiting the place during the Fontainhas Art Festival, you will be lucky enough to witness the well-preserved art and architecture of the houses in this area.
Towards the northern end of Fontainhas lies the old yet well-maintained Maruti Temple. Situated at the top of the Altinho Hill, the temple overlooks the entire stretch of Fontainhas. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, this saffron-coloured temple reflects the confluence of diversified culture in Goa. At night, when the temple is resplendently lit, there is a special old-world charm that radiates around.
Another unmissable spot is the Fonte Phoenix – the fount from which Fontainhas gets its name. Dated back to the Portuguese era, this whitewashed laterite structure is a beautiful natural spring that once served as a reservoir for residents.
If you have time to stop for a quick bite, there is always the option to dine at the Portuguese heritage homes which are converted into exotic cafes, bakeries and luxury hotels. A favourite restaurant is Viva Panjim, which serves delicious Goan and Portuguese cuisine. Horse Shoe and Hospedari a Venite are also popular haunts for authentic Goan cuisine. But for a real taste of Goa, no visit to Fontainhas is complete without indulging in the homemade treats from Cafeteria 31 De Janeiro.
After an exciting day of exploring, head to the Club Mahindra resorts in Goa to unwind, and relax and spend a peaceful night. The in-house restaurants, service and facilities are top-notch, according to the various reviews of hotels in Goa, you are promised a comfortable stay with family, that are on par with the best available.