The tour of Fort Cochin will include Mattancherry Palace, the Jewish Synagogue, St Francis Church, and the Chinese (cantilever) fishing nets. If time permits also visit the Dutch Cemetery, Santa Cruz Basilica and enjoy a walk around Jew Town.
Mattancherry Palace was built by the Portuguese in 1557 as a gift to the Raja of Cochin in exchange for trading rights. It was renovated by the Dutch in 1663 and thus became know as the Dutch Palace. The layout follows the traditional Keralan pattern of "nalukettus" (four buildings). Beautiful 17th century murals depict the story of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, painted with vegetable and mineral based colours and pine resin.
The Jewish Synagogue was built in 1568 in what is locally called Jew Town. The floor is covered in 18th century Chinese hand painted ceramic tiles and Belgian glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling. There are now only four Jewish families, comprising about 14 people, left in the town. Please note that the synagogue is closed to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays.
St Francis Church reflects the colonial struggle for India. Originally dedicated to San Antonio, the patron saint of Portugal, it passed into Dutch hands from 1664-1804, as a reformed Church. It then became Anglican from 1804-1947 and it is now part of the Church of South India.
Santa Cruz Basilica, a colourful church dating from 1887, was originally built by the Portuguese in 1558, but later destroyed by the British. The building which now stands was commissioned by Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira and was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
The tour normally lasts up to half a day. Some time will be available at the end of your tour to let you wander through the shopping district of Jew Town where spices and antiques are sold.
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