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Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery

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Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery

There are two churches and a museum in the same complex as the Cathedral. The Church and Convent of St Francis of Assisi is a broad vault of a church with two octagonal towers. The floor is paved with tombstones and on either side of the baroque high altar are paintings on wood depicting scenes from St Francis’ life while the walls above have frescoes with floral designs. The original Holy Spirit Church in the Portuguese Gothic (manueline) style was begun by Franciscan friars in 1517; everything except the old doorway was replaced by the larger present structure in the 1660s (itself restored 1762-1765). The convent now houses the Archaeological Museum and Portrait Gallery (T0832-228 6133, 1000- 1230, 1500-1830, Rs 5) with sculptures pre-dating the Portuguese, many from the 12th-13th centuries when Goa was ruled by the Kadamba Dynasty. There are ‘hero stones’ commemorating naval battles, and ‘sati stones’ marking the practice of widow burning. There is also a rather fine collection of portraits of Portuguese governors upstairs that is revealing both for its charting of the evolution of court dress as well as the physical robustness of the governors inside. Some governors were remarkable for their sickly pallor, others for the sheer brevity of their tenure of office, which must have set the portrait painters something of a challenge. (The ASI booklet on the monuments, Old Goa, by S Rajagopalan, is available from the museum, Rs 10.).

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