Located 9km from Panaji, Cabo fort lies on the peninsula land jutting out in the Arabian Sea, at Dona Paula. The fort was erected by the Portuguese in 1540 to guard the entrance to Goa harbour. The Portuguese planned a fort here in 1540, and as per long-established defence strategy, quickly built a church. Subsequently, they built a fort and the church was made into a convent. Since the fort’s canons were never used `in anger’, the buildings were used as temporary accommodation for the archbishop from the 1650s. The British took it over in 1798 and stayed in residence, apart from a brief break, until 1813. Initially during the Portuguese era, a Franciscan Convent, was attached to the Fort. These days nothing remains of the old citadel. You can, however, see the ruins of the small military cemetery the British built at the time of their brief occupation of the Cabo during the Napoleonic wars – a move intended to deter the French from invading Goa. This later became Cabo Palace and is now the official residence of the Governor of Goa, known as the Raj Bhavan.
Other attractive and interesting things to see in this place are different types of artefacts like Bohemian glass chandeliers, and Chinese Pottery. You can also see small chapels located at the end of the fort. This chapel is devoted to Virgin Lady of the cape. The age of the church is believed to be 500 years old. In olden days, this place functioned as a landmark for the seafarers. Other attractive things to see near this fort are monastery located inside the fort. It was constructed by Viceroy of D. Matias D Albuquerque by his single effort. The construction was started from 1594 on February 5th and was completed within 6 months in 1594 July 14th.
It was also popularly called as “Palace Cabo” during the Portuguese period. The word Cabo is derived from Portuguese language, which refers to Cape in Portuguese. During Portuguese period, Franciscan convent was close to the fort. It was used by the Governor General of Portuguese as their residence. First Cabo Raj Bhavan was built as a fort to watch the boats entering from the two rivers. Currently it is functioning as Governor’s palace of Goa and visits are only possible through special appointment.
The Darbar hall is the official reception area which is used for the swearing ceremonies and other official occasions. The dining room of the fort has the accommodation space of over 30 people. The offices of the Governor, his secretariat and staff are situated on the ground floor of the fort in a separate area. If you wish to visit the museum which is housed inside the palace premises then you take a prior permission from the ADC office.
It is one of the popular forts of Goa that attracts tourists from near and far. Every year feast of Chapel of Virgin Mary is celebrated here on 15th August. If you happen to be in Goa in August then you must attend this big fair. On your visit to Cabo Raj Bhavan you can also visit a small church which is known as the Our Lady of Cabo Church.
Bohemian Chandeliers, Chinese porcelain, silver and wooden furniture form the assets of Raj Bhavan. The beautiful pieces of antique Chinese porcelain presumably manufactured in Canton, a worn-out set of crockery having a similar design with same coat of arms were specially ordered for the use of the Portuguese Governor General. An excellent collection of high quality wooden furniture with exquisite workmanship, a set of intricately carved chairs with figurines of Hindu Gods and Temples indicate the complete harmony between Christians and Hindus that existed in Goa.