St. Francis Church, originally dedicated to Santo Antonio, the patron Saint of Portugal was built in 1503 and is one of the oldest European Church in India. It is situated at Parade Road, 2 Km west of Mattancherry in Fort Cochin. Portuguese explorer Vasco De Gama died in Kochi in 1524 during his third visit to India and his body was laid in this church. Later on after 14 years his remains were moved to Lisbon his native place. It is among the main tourist attractions of Fort Kochi. The church was originally a wooden structure dedicated to St Bartholomew built in 1503, by the Portuguese who came with Admiral Pedro Alvarez de Cabral, following the tracks of Vasco de Gama who landed at Calicut in 1498. In 1506 the Viceroy Dom Francisco Almedia was permitted by the Cochin Raja to reconstruct the buildings in stone masonry. In 1516 A.D the new church was completed and it was dedicated to St.Antony. Later on when Dutch captured the Kochi the church was under the Dutch control till 1795.
The church became a protected monument in April 1923 under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904. It is now a popular Cenotaph in memory of the residents of Cochin who fell in the First Great War was erected in 1920. The boundary walls were erected in 1924 and in 1947 the congregation joined the Protestant Church of South India (CSI). It stands as a landmark in the architecture of churches in India and is great model to follow. There are regular worship services in this church on all Sundays and commemorative days. On weekdays it is kept open for visitors and tourists.
Best time to visit St Francis Church
Best time to visit St. Francis Church is from September to May.
Major attractions of St Francis Church
Ernakulam Shiva Temple:- It is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is located in the heart of Cochin near the Durbar Hall grounds. The uniqueness of the temple is that here the Shiva Linga points towards the sea that is towards the west which is not seen in any other Shiva temples in the world. Temple.
Dharmanath Jain Temple, Mattancherry:- It is over 105 years old temple situated at Mattancherry and will soon to attain the status of Thirath, one of the holiest places in Jain community.
Chottanikkara Temple:-It is located 20 km east of Cochin and is among the major tourist attractions of Kochi. It is quite near to hill palace and is dedicated to Goddess Bhagwati. Here the deity is worshipped in three different forms as Saraswati in the morning, draped in white; as Bhadrakali at noon, draped in crimson; and as Durga the evening, decked in blue.
Santa Cruz Bascilica, Fort Kochi:- The Roman Catholic Cathedral is one of the finest and impressive churches in Kerala. It is a place of devotion, historic significance; architectural and artistic grandeur of the gothic style located very close to St. Francis Church. It was built by Portuguese in 1505 and named as a cathedral in 1558 by Pope Paul IV. Later the British demolished the structure in 1795 and Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira commissioned a new building in 1887. The British colonists destroyed the cathedral. The current structure was built in 1905 and raised to the status of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
How to reach St Francis Church
By Air:- The closest airport to reach St. Francis church is Nedumbassery International airport which is about 20 km from Kochi. There are regular flights available on daily basis from major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai to reach it.
By Rail:- Three main railheads Ernakulam Junction, Ernakulam town and on Willingdon Island, Harbor Terminus are the main railheads to reach St Francis Church.
By Road:-Kochi:-Kochi is an important junction in Kerala, as it is well connected with the major cities from all over India. It is connected with three main highways from Kanyakumari to Salem via NH 47, Mumbai via NH 17 and from Madhurai via NH 49. There are Kerala Road Transport Corporation buses that are operated from Ernakulam to Kochi.
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