FONTAINHAS - The Latin Quarter of Goa.

Being born and brought up in Goa, the Portuguese culture and the ‘joie-de-vivre’ of their lifestyle has surely rubbed on to me! The close of the glorious Portuguese era in 1961, which lasted a whopping 450 years, has left hundreds of beautiful buildings in the care of the little Indian State. Thanks to the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Archaeological Survey of India and the World Heritage Organisation that recognized the dire need for funds and management for the upkeep of these magnificent buildings. Recent restoration projects have injected life into the usual decrepit sections of historical towns; the ward of Fontainhas certainly deserves a special mention. In fact no tourist would miss out on a visit to this wonderful ward of Panjim called Fontainhas. It is the most characteristic and the true cultural center of old Panjim.

Located west of the Ourem River, this old district or Latin Quarter has a completely different atmosphere from the hustle and bustle of the main city, with its Mediterranean appearance, narrow streets and overhanging balconies of the ancient Portuguese style houses. The entire area is laid out at the base of a hillside known as Altinho, and the natural springs on the hillside, gave the name Fontainhas to the area.
At the time of governor, Viscount of Ourém Joaquim José Januário Lapa (1851-55), an artistic reservoir in basalt stone was built around this spring known as ‘Fonte Phoenix’ which provided three taps of potable water to the city. Ultimately the area of ‘Palmar Ponte’ due to the existence of this fountain was called ‘Fontainhas’. The Governor Viscount of Ourém did also commendable work by training the course of Fontainhas creek and building marginal roads on both of its sides.

‘For the spiritual needs of the new settlement, a small chapel with only one altar, under invocation of St. Sebastian, was built in 1818. The crucifix that hung inside the Palace of the Inquisition hangs there. Just a couple of blocks from the Chapel, lies the beautifully restored building which is now used as the office of the Fundacão Orienté, an institution involved in restoration of quite a few heritage buildings in Goa. At the very end of Fontainhas, lies a small but attractive natural spring, Fonte Phoenix, whose surroundings have recently been renovated to turn it into a tourist spot. At Fontainhas, tourists can view the ingrained Portuguese culture in the lifestyle of the Goan people.
By : Joseph Canisius Dias