Get to know Goa - South Goa Architecture - by Jugie Singh


And the stories they tell

Goa is most known for its beaches, nightlife and food, but did you know that Goan architecture is also as unique as this tourist-friendly state? When you drive through Goa, you cannot but be enamoured by its dotted landscape of iconic buildings and crumbling architecture. A testimony to its a glorious past, the Goan architecture is a concoction of many cultures much like its people.

Most of these houses, you will notice, are Neo-Classical and Neo-Gothic and were built in the 18th century. The architecture was heavily influenced by European style but the materials used were all local – such as laterite stone, wood and terracotta, and oyster shells. These picturesque houses were given as rewards to wealthy Goan merchants and officials for their services to the Portuguese!



All Goan houses have a distinctive style. They are a riot of contrasting colours and reflect their people’s colourful nature. The yellow ochre colour is the signature colour of Goan houses. Did you know that by law, the old Portuguese government had made it a rule that all public buildings and churches must be white, reflecting purity, in reverence to Mother Mary? Well, the houses, in contrast, are conspicuously colourful on the outside and remained white on the inside.

The Portuguese government would also penalise house owners if their houses were unkempt and not painted. It was a legal requirement. And thanks to the Goan monsoons, the houses had to be painted each year. Walking along the Goan streets and looking at these beautiful houses would make you feel like you are walking in a painting!

Here’s another interesting aside for you. If you see a house with terracotta red mud rooster on the terracotta-tiled roof, there is more to it than what meets the eye. It was a common practice among Goans under the Portuguese rule to keep the red mud rooster perched on their roofs as a show of allegiance to the government! So, don’t forget to look out for the rooster on the roof.

While the remnants of Portuguese influence are unmissable in Goa, did you know that Goan citizens even now have the option to be either a Portugal or an Indian Citizen? Typically, those that eye the foreign shores opt for the former citizenship and those with political or business ambitions choose the second option. Talk about ‘To Be or Not To Be’, eh?


The state has four iconic Portuguese homes in south Goa. They are a must-visit if architecture, lifestyle, design and culture interest you – The Braganza House, The Pereira House, The Fernandez House and Casa Araujo Alvares House. Of these, the first three are situated in a nondescriptive village, Chandor in South Goa, and the last one is at Loutolim, BigFoot. These houses are open to tourists for a small fee.

The wealthiest of these homes house locally-crafted wooden chapel or oratory. The houses are adorned with artefacts from China, Europe and other parts of the world. The architecture varies slightly based on the religious persuasions of people. The Hindu homes and Christian homes have different layouts, each accommodating their pooja rooms and prayer rooms.

All houses nonetheless have gate posts, wrought iron balconies, pillared front porches, inner courtyards, compound walls with thick-tiled roofs and rain-protected ceilings. Simple symmetry with complimenting geometry and design is their staple architecture.




You must visit the Goa Chitra Museum located in South Goa, close to Benaulim and Colva. It offers insights on to the Goan lifestyle, living and architecture. You won’t regret the time spent here!

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