Welcome to Reis Magos
Opened to the public in 2012 as a cultural centre, Reis Magos Fort overlooks the narrowest point of the Mandovi River estuary, making it easy to appreciate the strategic importance of the site. It was originally built in 1551, after the north bank of the river came under Portuguese control, and rebuilt in 1703, in time to assist the desperate Portuguese defence against the Hindu Marathas (1737–39). It was then occupied by the British army in 1799 when they requisitioned Reis Magos, Cabo Raj Bhavan and Fort Aguada in anticipation of a possible attack by the French.
After the British withdrawal in 1813 the Reis Magos fort gradually lost importance, and was eventually abandoned. Like Fort Aguada nearby, the fort was turned into a prison in 1900 until it was abandoned again in 1993.
In 2011 the fort underwent extensive restoration and is now a cultural and heritage centre with exhibition spaces, including a gallery of works by cartoonist Mario Miranda and a room devoted to the history of the fort and its restoration. You can wander the ramparts for great views and inspect the original cannons pointing out over the Mandovi.
Reis Magos Church was built below the fortress walls in 1555, shortly after the construction of the fort itself. A Franciscan seminary was later added, and over the years it became a significant seat of learning.
The seminary is gone but the church is well worth a look, with its steep steps up from the road and fine views of the Mandovi River from the main doors. Outside the church, the lions portrayed in relief at the foot of the steps show signs of Hindu influence, and a crown tops off the facade. The colourful interior contains the tombs of three viceroys, including Dom Luis de Ataide, famous for holding 100,000 Muslim attackers – along with their 2000 elephants – at bay for 10 months in 1570, with his own force of just 7000 men.