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Reis Magos

Place : North Goa District, Goa
Best Season : Whole year..
Significance : Famous for two landmarks i.e the Reis Magos fort and Reis Magos Church.
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Reis Magos, a beautiful small village is famous for two landmarks i.e the Reis Magos fort and Reis Magos Church. Both these lies on the banks of river Mandovi in Bardez taluk, North Goa.

The 16th century fortress Reis Magos, built by the Portuguese is nestled amidst the green hilly slopes on the right bank of meandering River Mandovi at Betim. Constructed during the time of the Portuguese Viceroy, Don Alphonso de Noronha in 1551, it is laid out in quadrangular formation like Aguada Fort. Just 3 km north-east of the Aguada Fort, the fort provides splendid view. Gaspar Dias fort, which has since disappeared, was once faced it across the river.

Before the arrival of the Portuguese, it was a Muslim stronghold, controlled by Adilshah of Bijapur. The fort was expanded on a number of occasions and totally rebuilt in 1707. The fort was built in order to prevent an enemy, especially Dutch who manage to sail past Aguada and Cabo on the headlands. It is also known as Royal Fort. Before the 1961 liberation of Goa, it was used to house political prisoners, like freedom fighters. After liberation it was converted into a sub-jail till July 2, 1993. One of the well-preserved forts of Goa, it is now a protected monument under the Archaeology Department. Blocked by a corroded gate symbolically by a pair of handcuffs, the fort's steep pathway is full of weeds and bushes.

The fort was defended by 33 guns and accommodation for a small garrison. The angled bastions at the corners are topped with circular domed turrets for firing. A spring with plenty of fresh water lies a little way to the east of the fort.

The other landmark Reis Magos Church, also known as the church of the Three Magi Kings is located at the base of the fort approached by a broad flight of steps. Visible from across the river in Panaji, it is the first church of Bardez. Built in 1555 by the Franciscan missionaries, it was entirely remodeled in 1771. Historians believe the church was constructed on the ruins of an old Hindu temple. There is carved yali balustrades, flank the bottom steps.

Dedicated to St. Jerome, it's interior is quite colourful and impressive. The highlight of the church is the elaborately carved multi-coloured wood work of the altar is headed by a painted panel showing the Three Wise Men (Reis Magos) bearing gifts to the baby Jesus. Inside the church, the gravestone of the Viceroy Dom Luis De Ataide is set into the floor of the corridor north of the nave. The feast of the Reis Magos is held every year in the month of January.

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