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Portuguese Architecture

On landing in Goa in 1512, the Portuguese first made churches with little stress on embellishments. Later Classical elements crept in to the church designs. Till the middle of the 18th century the religious buildings informed the style of secular architecture. These buildings were massive two storeyed structures with a small opening on the ground floor and large windows on the first floor. Double storeyed houses were a throwback of the Portuguese double storeyed mansion. Double storied houses which were constructed later show the varied designs that were used for decorating the house.

By the 18th century another style in building construction evolved. It was the single-storeyed house inspired by the Hinducourtyard house.

It is obvious from the buildings dating before the coming of the Portuguse which still survive today that they too imbibed Westernstyle features. With the evolution of the Goan identity, the metamorphised house with features
like porch and veranda became important elements inhouse designs. Goan houses reveal Italian classical features in the planning of the facade. Da Cunha said the later 19th century houses were a mixture of neo- classicism and neo-gothic. Neo-gothic enhanced the decorative element. The influence of the Italian classical style from religious percolated down to every aspect of detailing.

The interplay of Mannerist and Roccoco features with Maratha and Mughal interpreted in a folksy manner gave birth to a style of house by the end of 19th century which can be called a Goan house.


No one coloured his house all white as a mark of respect to Churches and crosses which were painted white. Initially these were coloured in vegetable and natural dyes. Gateways to the houses were lofty and elegant in the
18th century later they were replaced by towering gateways. The facade of most houses was symmetrical with the entrance door occupying the place of honour. Railings were the most intricate embellishment in a Goan house. Pillars, piers and colours do not seem to be influenced by any style in particular. Windows gradually become more decorative, ornate and expressive. Almost all Goan houses have a false ceiling of wood. The Kitchen in Goan house was at the fartherest end of the house and every househad an area dedicated to the deity.

The houses of Goa have a story to tell. It is fascinating and at once gripping with the mingling of architecture designs that is oft known as the Indo- Portuguese style unravelling the unique blend of Hindu and Christian homes

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