Although its secluded location often leads to this little church being overlooked, it is certainly worth a stop on a tour of Velha Goa (Old Goa). With simple exteriors, lavish interiors and wealth of historical significance, this chapel is what one might call a hidden treasure. Its plain whitewashed walls present a delightful picture at sunset, and the view from its vantage point is truly breath taking.
Situated as it is atop the Monte near the Church of St. Cajetan, it overlooks the expanse of the Mandovi and the islands of Devar and Chorao.
Claim to Fame
Plays host to the much acclaimed Monte Music festival, which attracts music buffs from all over every February.
The chapel is open to visitors at the following timings
Mon to Sat – 9.00am to 7.00pm
Sun – 9.00am to 12.00pm
- View of the Mandovi from near the chapel
- Chapel at sunset
- Plaque commemorating the victory of Afonso de Albuquerque Read more +
In 1510 this was the site of the battle between the armies of Afonso de Albuquerque and Sultan Adil Shah, who was trying to retake Goa. To commemorate his victory and give thanks, Afonso de Albuquerque erected this chapel. In 1931 the Archaeological commission had a plaque placed here that, when translated, reads, “Here the Mohammedan artillery stood against Alfonso de Albuquerque to retake Goa in May, 1510”.
- Eight panelled gilded reredos
- Altars of St. Anthony
History, Construction and Architecture
It is on the top of the “Monte” that the chapel of Our Lady of the Mount” was built soon after the conquest of Goa to mark the site from where Adil Shah positioned his artillery against the Portuguese forces to retake Goa in 1510. So when Afonso de Albuquerque defeated the Sultan’s forces, he made a vow to construct a church at the very strategic point on the mount. The church was constructed in 1519 and has been rebuilt twice since.
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The Monte chapel is built of laterite blocks covered with lime plaster. Laterite rock is a weathered form of basalt rock; i.e. the softer minerals have been worn away, which is what give the rock its sponge-like appearance. Earlier this chapel could only be reached by climbing a series of laterite steps set into the side of the hillock, but now there is also a road leading up to it.
Built in the Mannerist style and measuring 33m in length and 14m in breadth, this structure is on the large side for a chapel. The walls of the chapel are 2.7m thick and support a roof made of Mangalore tile. The façade of this chapel resembles that of the Se Cathedral to which this chapel was subordinate. Consisting of three sections, the ground floor section has entrances with windows crowned with triangular pediments on the upper section. This is surmounted by a central panel flanked by wings which hide the gable roof of the chapel.
There have been many additions made to the chapel over the years, the earliest of which is a two story loggia attached to the northern wall of the church. Some extensions were also built against the north-eastern wall and the eastern façade, which is behind the altar.
Interior and Artwork
The churches chancel had three altars. The main altar has at its centre the image of Our Lady of the Mount holding the child Jesus. Above it is a picture of the coronation of the Virgin Mary, and below that a picture of Our Lady of Assumption. At the base of the retable are the busts of St. Vincent with a ship and St. Lawrence with a gridiron, the symbol of his martyrdom. The collateral altar is dedicated to St. Anthony.
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The nave of the chapel is covered by a barrel vaulted ceiling as is the chancel. However, the breadth of the chancel is less than that of the nave. The main altar is dedicated to Our Lady and its retable is divided into eight sections. In the central niche is a statue of Our Lady of the Mount holding the Baby Jesus, above this is a picture of the Coronation of the BVM and below is Our Lady of Assumption. The picture on the side panels and those on the main altar depict various aspects of the life of Our Lady.
At the base of the retable are two busts, one being St. Vincent who is depicted with a ship and the other is St. Lawrence who is depicted with a gridiron, which is the symbol of his martyrdom. The sub-altars are dedicated to St. Anthony of Lisboa and St. Anthony the Hermit. At the angle of these altars are miniatures of the devil and an inscription in Latin, which translated, reads “my sins are always before me”.
Monte Music Festival
Organized by the Fundacao Oriente in collaboration with the Kala Academy, this festival aims to integrate Indian and Western forms of Classical music. Held in February every year, the festival attracts both performers and music buffs from across various countries and fields. A real must see for any music lover
This humble chapel has been the backdrop for many a Bollywood film shoot.
- Mannerist - A style of architecture which rose up in response to the Renaissance
Movement, and used architectural forms to emphasize solid and spatial relationships, for eg. Pilasters that stretch from the top to bottom of a façade.
- Loggia - An exterior gallery or corridor, usually on an upper level whose exterior face
is exposed to the elements, usually having only columns or arches for support.