The Influence Of The Portuguese On Goan Architecture

The Influence Of The Portuguese On Goan Architecture

While Goa is the smallest state in India, it is filled with picturesque sights. Most visitors flock to the beach for a slice of paradise and the upbeat nightlife. But, if you head deeper into the little state, you’ll find beauty and tranquility of a different standard in the historic architecture.


A majority of the houses and buildings throughout the state are a reflection of Portugues culture and aesthetics fused with a modern style. Before the Portugues influence, most Goan houses were made of mud, jaggery, and lime to fight the heat and were covered with sloping thatched roofs for rainwater to run off. These structures had small windows and the walls were completely bare.





But, when the Portuguese came to Goa and colonized the state, the architectural and living standards changed. During the Portuguese rule, Goa was introduced to new methods and styles of construction. Mud walls were replaced with laterite stones to fortify tall the structures. Large magnificent windows adorned their walls to encourage ventilation and temperature control, and the walls of houses and official buildings were either whitewashed or painted lively colors.

Over time, the small houses were repaced by bungalows, which were offered as rewards to wealthy Goan merchants and officials who served the Portuguese. These mansions were inspired by European tastes but were built from local materials. Builders used red laterite stone for the walls, wooden support and terracotta tiles for the roofs, and oyster shells for the windows instead of glass.

Other unique elements included the iconic balcão, which is a shady, pillared front porch with red cement seats for the family and guests to relax. Houses of wealthy people even had wood crafted chapels, with alters and relics gilded in gold.

Besides dwellings, the Portuguese also built magnificent churches throughout the state with diverse elements that mimic European ones. These structures possess elaborate arches, intricate floor to ceiling hand-carved alters, chandeliers, and paintings related to Catholicism.

It’s been over fifty years since the Portuguese left, but their influence is still preserved in the historic architecture throughout the state. And, accompanied by the backdrop of the emerald tropics, they continue to amaze travelers from other states and countries.

If you’d like to indulge in estates inspired Portuguese styles and concepts, reach out to Bennet & Bernard Custom Homes. We have a variety of colonial-style villas and condominiums across Goa designed to meet your modern needs and old-world desires.

To check out our property listings, please click here. For more information on our properties and their pricing, please contact us here.

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