Goa: A "Lisbon" in Southwest Asia

Located on the southwestern coast of the Indian subcontinent, Goa functioned as an integral port to Western European, specifically Portuguese, colonists, merchants, priests, and sailors. In the late sixteenth century, Portugal acquired Goa as a territorial possession. As with its other colonies, Portugal maintained a policy of “assimilation” with the inhabitants of Goa.[1]The policy attempted to raise the colonized people to the preeminent status of its Portuguese colonizers. Eventually, the Portuguese Republic recognized the colony of Goa as “equal” and consequently, awarded the region equal civic privileges to Lisbon. Resultantly, Goa economically boomed and grew into a central trading destination and “worth” acknowledgement in Western European reference books and other materials, such as Civitates Orbis Terrarum. The chorographic image of Goa, Pourtraict de la Ville de Goà, depicts the city from a southwestern perspective. Comparable to the representations of Lisbon, the southwestern perspective of Goa affords the viewer a foreground of the Arabian Sea occupied by merchant ships and caravels, which emphasizes its maritime significance. Unlike depictions of the other cities within the collection, Goa lacks a complicated and crammed organization of the city. The majority of buildings occupy a space enclosed by city walls; the buildings outside the city walls sit atop distant hills and lack uniformity. Both Pourtraict de la Ville de Goà and Braun and Hogenberg’s depiction offered Western Europeans a glimpse into the colonial ventures of the Portuguese Republic and their Southwestern Asian “Lisbon.”


[1] “Goa and the Portuguese Republic.” Indian Political Science Association, JSTOR.