This traditional Portuguese-style neighborhood is home to many of Panaji's historic buildings, including the Sao Tome Chapel, the old post office, and myriad colonial houses with red tile roofs and colorful facades. Sao Tome is best explored on foot and is often visited in tandem with the neighboring Fontainhas area.
Like Fontainhas to the south, Sao Tome is all about atmosphere. Here you'll find architecture reflective of the city's Portuguese roots, along with small shops and taverns serving the favorite local spirit, feni. Visitors can view a variety of historic public buildings, including the post office (once a tobacco trading house) and the site of the former town pillory, where criminals were executed until 1843.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Sao Tome is best explored on foot, so be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes.
- Sao Tome is a must-visit for those with an interest in history and architecture.
- Bring a camera; this area is charming and photogenic.
How to Get There
Sao Tome is located across the river from the commercial hub of Panaji, and just north of the equally charming and historic Fontainhas neighborhood. It’s about 10 minutes’ walk to Sao Tome from the Panjim Bus Stand. By car it takes about a half-hour to get to Panaji from Calangute, or 45 minutes to an hour from Anjuna or Vagator.
When to Get There
Sao Tome is best explored on foot, so visit first thing in the morning when temperatures are coolest. Evening is cool as well, and is the busiest time for locals to come out to shop and take evening walks.
Color in Goan Portuguese Architecture
While many structures in Goa are made of laterite stone, most are painted in bright colors. Under Portuguese rules, houses had to be painted but they could not be painted white because that color was associated with purity and thus reserved for churches. However, white trim was favored, and still is to this day, particularly for historic structures.