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Heritage Homes, Goan Bakeries & Churches: Explore Panjim’s Fontainhas & Sao Tome Quarters



    Panjim, Goa

    If you're looking for an offbeat guide to Panjim, we've got you covered! The Latin Quarters in Panjim is bordered by the Altinho Hill In the west and is bound by the Ourem Creek in the East. The story goes that in the 1800s, that Fontainhas was developed after the outbreak of plague forced administrators and rulers to move from Old Goa to Panjim. The neighbourhood grew haphazardly and without much planning. Which is why, you’ll notice that many of the streets are so narrow that even a car will struggle to pass through.

    Fontainhas and its historical neighbourhood of Sao Tome are best explored on foot. You can spend a couple of hours roaming around the area and acquainting yourself to the sights. If you prefer a guided tour, then, sign up with walking tours with Soul Travelling, Make It Happen or The Local Beat. But if you prefer just walking around, unhurried, all by yourself, here are our pick of top places of interest in Panjim.

    Say A Little Prayer At The Chapel Of St Sebastian

    Possibly Fontainhas’ most well-known landmark, the St Sebastian’s Chapel sits elegantly at the end of a quiet road. Soak in the architecture of the whitewashed chapel’s exteriors before turning your attention to its unique interiors. The chapel is one of the rare Christian edifices that is home to a crucifix on which Christ’s eyes are visibly open. The unique crucifix was originally from the Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa. And was built that way to put the fear of god in the hearts of inquisitors!

    Dive Into Bakeries & Taverns

    No trip to Fontainhas can be deemed complete without a stop by the Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro. A hole-in-the-wall bakery that’s over 80-years old, Confeitaria is well known for its Swiss rolls, plum cakes, and patties. You can enjoy a cup of tea along with a slice of their oven fresh tea cakes or Goan snacks before heading out to explore the rest of the Latin Quarters. You may have trouble finding this place, so take the help of locals.

    In the narrow streets, you’ll also spot local taverns where you can swing by a for a glass of feni or homemade wine. Pinto's bar and Joseph's are our favourite watering holes but if you want something swankier, try Cafe Mojo, DTR (Down The Road) or Taverna Panjim. 

    Admire Local Artistry

    Close to Panjim Inn is Gallery Gitanjali. Housed in a gorgeous vintage building, you can discover Contemporary Indian Art here. Spend your time here gazing at works by Mario Miranda, Raghu Rai, Jayshree Patankar, and Mohan Naik. The gallery also displays Scandinavian art from the 50’s and 60’s. The substantial collection includes lithographs, linocuts, etchings, and serigraphs. You can also visit the Velha Goa Galeria. Specialising in those blue-and-white, patterned ceramics and tilework (known as azueljos), the store is an excellent place to pick up souvenirs.

    This apart, you can also hop over to the Mario Miranda stores, Velha Goa or Marcou Artifacts for some Goan keepsakes. 

    Eat At Local Goan Restaurants

    When the hunger pangs come calling, head to two of the best-known restaurants in the area. Viva Panjim and Hotel Venite, both, serve local Goan cuisine and are an essential part of the Fontainhas experience. Viva Panjim is a compact restaurant that will make you feel like you are dining at someone’s home. The seafood offerings, Chorizo pulao, and the Pork Vindaloo are excellent here. At Venite, the Stuffed Mackeral Fry, Prawn Xacuti, and the Grilled Pork Chops are delicious here. Try the house wine at both these restaurants, you won’t regret it. There's also Mum's Kitchen and Fisherman's Wharf if you don't mind a bit of walking for Goan food. 

    If you want a less touristy experience, there's Kokni Kanteen, Peep Kitchen and everyone's favourite Ritz Classic for fish thali lunches. You can also ditch the old school for a more cosmopolitan meal at new restaurants like Black Market, Black Sheep BistroThe Awadh House, Tataki and Soul Chef. If you're a sucker for cool cafes, you can hop over to Caravela, Blue Tokai, the cafe at The White Balcao and Bodega

    Climb Up The Altinho Hill

    The spectacular view from Altinho Hill proves to be the befitting finale to your trip to Fontainhas. You get an eyeful of the colourful buildings topped by red-tiled roofs. You can also visit the famous Maruti Temple here. Oh, and there's the Sunaparanta Centre for Arts in case you're interested in arts and inside lies one of our favourite cafes of all times. Head over to Cantina Bodega for your fill of smoothies, cakes and calm.