Madgaon [Margão]

Lat: 15.273463888889000, Long: 73.958061111111000

Madgaon [Margão]

Goa, India

Historical Background and Urbanism

The town of Margao is located in the territory of Salcette by the Sal River and developed around the parish church and the large open yard extending in front. A designated hamlet [povoação], this Christian nucleus was also the local centre before the Portuguese presence and likewise an important centre of Hindu religious life. West of the territory was an open-air market described as being large and abundant; to the south was its oldest Hindu neighbourhood, called Comba. The old City Council (1873) was also located to the west of that open court. Margao achieved town status in 1779. Up to the end of the 19th century it was the biggest and most populated centre in Goan territory and contained the seats of the Salcette Municipality, the Agrarian Chamber and the Comarca [district], as well as the Provincial Military Command with permanently stationed Portuguese troops. Once the Barracks’ Square [Largo dos Quartéis] was defined and the respective quarters built in 1811, the urban layout began extending to the south. The square was regularly-shaped, bounded on the west and north by the barracks, on the east by barracks and the Church of Grace, and on the south by private homes. Somewhat farther away on the south side were a few houses of rural appearance. There are not many precise accounts of work done in Margao, though some testimony allows us to ascertain that in the mid-19th century the town underwent various improvements, providing us with an idea of how it developed. Lopes Mendes (1862-71), Tomás Ribeiro (1870) and José Nicolau da Fonseca (1878) mention work on public buildings and improvements during that period. The Court building was put up in 1841 west of the square. Ten years later construction was under way near the market. Since at least the 1840s the town’s municipal aims envisaged health control measures and regulated construction. That decade also saw construction of a cemetery on the outskirts of the built-up area to the southwest, in an attempt to contain the many epidemics then affecting the town. The first stone of the Hospice of the Sacred Heart of Mary was set in place nearby in 1867, and Rua Padre Miranda laid out from 1864 to 1870. The town grew around the two squares and along the street connecting them, Rua Abade Faria. The proportion of Christian (10,878) to non-Christian (1,347) inhabitants mentioned by Lopes Mendes, provides an idea of the concentration in the Christian area and the density of construction in the rest of the urban grid, i.e. southward that density gradually diminished. The houses of the Christian Brahmins’ estates were located along Rua de São Joaquim, the street connecting to the border area, east of the church square [Largo da Igreja]. This arrangement extended along the street to an outlying area. The houses were nearly all single-storey palatial constructions with balconies and gardens. The town was noted for its prestigious society and rich intellectual life, both among Catholics and Hindus. Intellectual activity was reflected by the existence in the 1860s of two theatres and the publication of eight newspapers. The major changes affecting the city’s layout took place at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, when Margao gained new dynamics and centrality. They were driven by construction of the railway (1881-88) and the consequent installation of the railway station in the southern part of town. The choice of site for the City Council in 1902, halfway between the Largo dos Quartéis and the railroad, was a clear bet on southward urban expansion. An urban space was created whose characteristics recalled the open square in the old town centre; this image was altered after 1961 by creation of the municipal gardens. A market area had meanwhile been installed in this zone. The municipal aims were also revised in 1902; regarding constructions they determined, among other things, the minimum bay sizes, distance between constructions and street layouts, etc. Two plans for Margao were conceived in 1907 and 1911. The first was fundamental for the city’s growth and covered the neighbourhoods of Comba and Dom Affonso (New Market area), envisaging the opening of streets and construction of buildings. These neighbourhoods grew substantially in the following years. The second plan was approved in 1918, anticipating a thorough transformation of the town. Besides the work undertaken at urban level, various edifices were built, among them the one on the west side of town and the hospital enlargement. The latter’s importance, not just for the city but also for the region, most likely led to construction of the street linking it to the southern zone by the railway station. Construction continued in Margao in the following years, as in other population centres. The town was raised to city status in 1933; urban improvements were undertaken, among them the 1936 expropriation of the properties on Largo dos Quartéis and the Municipal Square to open streets around the municipal garden and parking lot. Some of the buildings designed at the time were never built. In the 1950s the city’s water supply was assured and in 1961 work was being done on the urbanisation plan.

Religious Architecture

Military Architecture


Equipment and Infrastructures