Fontainhas- Goa’s Latin Quarter: History, What to See and Do at Fountainhas, Accommodation Options (2020)
Want to get transported back in time during your stay in Goa? Head to the Fontainhas in Panaji, Goa. Popularly known as Goa’s Latin Quarter, Fontainhas is a heritage colony that attracts thousands of visitors every year from home and abroad. Adorning itself with houses built in colonial architecture, this colony is surrounded by Ourem Creek and the Altinho Hills. As you explore the narrow cobbled street of Fontainhas, you’ll literally go back in time to experience the Portuguese influence of Goa’s food, culture, and life.
Fontainhas – Why Such A Strange Name?
Located approximately 1.5 km away from Panjim, the Fontainhas gets its name from Fonte Phoenix around which the Portuguese settled in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today the Fontainhas stands adorned with colorful Portuguese homes and quaint shops, bakeries, and art galleries. Fontainhas received recognition as a UNESCO Heritage Zone in 1984. Once you start exploring this area on foot, you will be able to experience bougainvillea flowers adorning wooden balconies and the feeling is not very different from walking in a quarter in Old Havana.
History of Fontainhas
Fontainhas was the brainchild of a wealthy Portuguese named Antonio Joao de Sequeira who used this land for the purpose of coconut plantations. With the beginning of plague outbreak and elevated sanitary problems, the Portuguese government shifted its headquarters from Old Goa to Panjim in the 1800s. Subsequently this area started becoming the residential areas of the officers and rulers of the administration. Today the Fontainhas feature homes that are painted in pastels and built in colonial style. The names of the streets here are deeply connected with history. For example, Rua 31 de Janeira (31St January Road) is dedicated to the January 31, 1640 when Portugal gained independence from Spain. On the other hand, 18th June Street is named after the date in 1946 which marked the end of Portuguese rule in India with a meeting called by Ram Manohar Lohia.
What to See and Do at the Fontainhas, Panaji?
Fontainhas is best explored on foot. Here are some of the popular attractions and activities that you must visit and do in Fontainhas, Panaji.
- Witness Colorful Portuguese House: Transporting you back to the Portuguese time, the colorful houses here let you catch a glimpse of traditional Portuguese architecture. What makes these houses stand out is the combination of hues of yellow, green, and blue. The overhead balconies here will definitely astonish you. You’ll also find a number of cafes and bakeries here which are running for more than 100 years. You’ll be amazed to know that the houses and cottages in Fontainhas are still painted every year after the monsoon. This was primarily established as a rule by the Portuguese and is still followed today. Image Source
- Chapel of St. Sebastian: Another popular attraction that you can’t miss during your visit to the Fontainhas in Goa is the Chapel of St. Sebastian. Known for its white exterior, this chapel adds a contrast to the colorful neighborhood. The interior of the chapel is adorned with altarpieces, a crucifix, and the statue of the Virgin Mary. The eyes of the Christ on the Crucifix are wide open at this chapel. Image Source
- Visit Gitanjali Gallery: While the Latin Quarter itself is a work of art, the Gitanjali Gallery located next to the Heritage Hotel unravels the best opportunity for you to experience contemporary art. The gallery adorns itself with a vast collection of Scandinavian art items from the 1950s to 90s. Different items that you will find here include serigraphs, lithographs, etchings, linocuts, and woodcuts. Besides embellishing itself with works by local as well as international artists, the gallery also hosts poetry and book reading sessions frequently. The on-site cafe unravels a rejuvenating opportunity for you to reinvigorate yourself while you indulge in browsing the art collection here. Image Source
- Take Yourself to the Maruti Temple: Located on the top of Altinho Hill, the Maruti Temple is another popular spot that you can’t miss here. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, this temple attracts tourists and locals alike. What you will truly relish here is the tranquil atmosphere. In addition, the panoramic vistas of the entire neighborhood will leave you amazed. Image Source
- Fonte Phoenix: If you haven’t already read about the history of the Fontainhas, this is a must-visit spot for you. Dating back to the Portuguese era, this natural spring is what this neighborhood has been named after. You can visit this fountain on your way to the Maruti temple.
- Fontainhas Festival: If you happen to be in Goa during February, you must attend the Fontainhas Festival. All the historic houses transform themselves into galleries and showcase their artworks during this art and cultural festival. Furthermore, they organize musical and dance events as well. Image Source
Accommodation Options at the Fontainhas
When you want to indulge yourself into Portuguese experience, there is no better way than actually staying at the Fontainhas. Here are some of the most popular accommodation options that are worth exploring.
1. La Maison: Located on Saint Sebastian Chapel Road, La Maison is known for being home to elegant rooms. The European fusion restaurant here unravels the best opportunity for you to excite your taste buds.
Location: 5/158, St. Sebastian Chapel Road, Fontainhas, Mala, Panaji, Goa
Cost: INR 3000 onwards per night
2. Welcome Heritage Panjim Inn: Located on Rua 31 de Janeiro, Welcome Heritage Panjim Inn is one of the first biggest mansions of Fontainhas. Having been owned by the same family for five generations, this mansion lets you capture the essence of the bygone era. The rooms here have been adorned with antiques as well as period furniture.
Location: E-212, Rua 31 de Janeiro, Fontainhas, Altinho, Panaji, Goa
Cost: INR 5000 onwards per night
3. Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho: Located on Rua de Natal, Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho is one of the popular bed and breakfast places in the Fontainhas. Designed by Roy Botelho, this bed and breakfast used to be a Portuguese homestead earlier.
Location: H N 5/214, 1,2, Rua de Natal, Fontainhas (quarter), Panaji, Goa
Cost: INR 3000 onwards per night
Want to know more about the Portuguese heritage in Goa? There is no better place than the Fontainhas to know it all. Keep this guide handy to know more about popular attractions and accommodation options in and around the Fontainhas in Goa.