Kerala also known as “Gods Own country” is one of the most diverse
places to visit in not just because of its varying landforms but also due to its rich culture and heritage. The culture in here is a mixture of European and Indian influences which can be seen in the monuments built during the erstwhile days. Of the many such foreign influenced architectural marvels that adorn this state, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica is one the best.
This particular cathedral is known to be the oldest European churches in India and is one of the eight basilicas in the entire country. The church was first built after gaining permission from the Raja of Cochin in the year 1505 on May 3rd by the first Portuguese viceroy Dom Francisco de Almeida. The foundation stone was laid on this very day and the construction of the church was done using stone and mortar. The day the foundation stone was laid fell on the feast day of “the intervention of Christ” and was thus named Santa Cruz. Later in the year 1558, Pope Paul IV gave this church status of a cathedral.
Later when the Dutch captured Fort Kochi all the catholic institutions were demolished but the Cathedral and St. Francis Church survived. The Dutch used the cathedral as an ammunition store house for many years but when the British took over in 1795 it was demolished. About a century later in 1887, Bishop D. Joao Gomez Ferreira began the reconstruction of the cathedral however it was Bishop D. Mateus de Oliveira Xavier who completed it. The newly built church today also houses one of the original pillars of the demolished church as a monument
The present church has been built in the Gothic style. The church has two tall spires which look over the horizon. The main altar has been decorated by a renowned Italian painter known as Fra Antonio Moscheni. The columns of the church have been decorated with murals and paintings that depict the passion and crucifixion of Christ. The most famed painting that one can see here is that of the Last Supper. The glass that adorns the windows of the church is that of stained glass which reflects light beautifully. The ceiling is also beautifully painted with scenes from the Via Crucis of Christ.
Attractions In and Around
After visiting the 5 century old chapel and gaping in awe at the architectural marvels you can visit a few more places of tourist interest that are nearby. Few of the places that you can visit when you are in this area are the Dutch cemetery, the Chinese fishing net water front, the Mahatma Gandhi beach, Fort Kochi etc.
One can access this place by both waterway and roadway from Ernakulam. You can board a bus or take a taxi if you are travelling by road and if you opt for waterways you can always take a boat.
You can stay in any one of the hotels in the nearby area of Ernakulam or even in the Fort Kochi area. As this is a tourist area you can find hotels according to your needs be it luxury or budget.