They long for peace and quietude

Fontainhas is an old Latin Quarter situated in Panjim, Goa. A Portuguese-influenced quarter, this area is over 250 years old.


Fontainhas Latin Quarter in Panjim. Photo:Unsplash

Vandana Nair

Panjim: Walking past quaint brightly-coloured houses with clay-tiled roofs on a quiet early morning arouses the feeling of tranquillity. The calmness of passing through cobbled streets of rich heritage that has stood the test of time, feels special. Sadly, early morning is the only time when silence prevails in Fontainhas, the time when the house owners in this old part of Panjim are at peace as the rest of the day invites construction work and noisy tourists that make living in this street difficult.

Fontainhas is an old Latin Quarter situated in Panjim, Goa. A Portuguese-influenced quarter, this area is over 250 years old. It is said that Fontainhas was built by a wealthy Portuguese, Antônio João de Sequeira, who started a coconut plantation which then got converted into a residential area for Portuguese officers and rulers. Fontainhas Latin Quarter was recognized as a heritage zone by UNESCO in 1984. This area has an old Portuguese charm and in addition to the old houses, there are churches, galleries, cafes, and bakeries. It is a hotspot for tourists who visit not just to bask in the rich history that surrounds the place, but to click numerous photos of themselves. These photos are often clicked in front of these houses as there are no boundary walls. This is a growing menace for the people living there, and the most common sign board you see outside their houses is “No Photography.”

Mr. Clifton, owner of Afonso Guest House, located close to St. Sebastian’s Chapel, built in 1880, has been running the place for over 35 years. “Some of the original owners in this area have sold their place but a lot of us continue to live here,” he said. “We deal with commotion caused by tourists throughout the day.”

Ms Jeanette, Clifton’s mother, who co-runs the place, said: “We have no problem with tourists walking past our streets and clicking a few photos, but they create a lot of ruckus in front of our property. They shout and click photos for their Instagram and other social media pages.” Adjusting her glasses with a frown on her face, she continues: “This used to be an old, peaceful neighbourhood which it no longer is. It’s extremely noisy. With pubs and restaurants coming up in the area, there is commotion at night too. We all have raised complaints which have led to some respite at night.”

Goa being a party destination where the city never sleeps, we often forget that not all are tourists. Just like how we wish our neighbourhoods to be quiet, there are residents in Panjim who wish to lead a quiet and peaceful life too.

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