On the westernmost point of the peninsula stands an old fortress, Cabo Raj Bhavan, nowadays the official residence of the Governor of Goa. Plans to build a fortress here, to guard the entrance to the Mandovi and Zuari Rivers, were first proposed in 1540, and although the 16th century had become the 17th before work on the fortress began, a chapel was raised on the spot almost immediately. The fortress was subsequently completed and the chapel extended to include a Franciscan friary. The fort itself, though equipped with several cannons, was never used in defence of Goa, and from the 1650s was instead requisitioned as a grand and temporary residence for Goa’s lucky archbishop.
From 1799 to 1813 the site (along with Fort Aguada and Reis Magos Fort, to the north) was occupied by the British who, during the Napoleonic Wars, deemed it necessary in order to deter the French from invading Goa. Now all that remains of the British presence is a forlorn little British cemetery, with gravestones spanning just over a century. It’s tucked away behind the Institute of Oceanography – look for the hand-painted sign to the cemetery and the clam-shaped Oceanography Institute roof off the main roundabout. Cabo Raj Bhavan’s 500-year-old chapel also draws thousands of locals to its Feast of the Chapel for prayers and festivities each 15 August.
After the departure of the British, the buildings were once again inhabited by the archbishop of Goa, but it didn’t remain long in his possession: in 1866 the Portuguese viceroy took a shine to the buildings, and had them refurbished and converted into the governor’s palace, packing the poor old archbishop off to the hilltop Bishop’s Palace in Altinho.