Marmagao (Goa), India

The golden beaches, lush tropical vegetation and brilliant flowers of Goa stand out among India’s visual impressions. Likewise, the stately Catholic churches and palaces seem more akin to Brazil than Asia. Goa’s heritage as a Portuguese colony remains in the architecture and the religious culture. Mormugao is an important deepwater port, but the heart of the Goan legacy is in Old Goa, where the Portuguese made their capital from the 15th until the 18th century. Nearly a dozen stately churches form the center of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the relatively austere Se Cathedral and the Church of Saint Francis Assisi. The ornately carved, reddish Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the relics of Saint Francis Xavier. The later colonial and modern state capital is the riverside city of Panaji, formerly called Panjim. It has its own architectural treasures, as well as the Goa State Museum.