By Anthony Correa
Our intrepid members Carlos Alvares and his wife Catarina Cottinelli da Costa made a fascinating trip to see their relatives in Goa over Chinese New Year. Their trip retraced the 16th century voyage that the early Portuguese would make between Macau and Goa, which was at that time the base for the Viceroy of Portuguese India. Macau was administered from Goa for the first three centuries of its existence and was only granted provincial independence with Timor and Solor, Flores Islands in 1844. Fraternal connections between Macau and Goa such as Carlos and Catarina's run deep and continue into the 21st Century.
Carlos is proudly related to the Figueiredo family and took this opportunity to visit his cousin Fátima at her famous home.
Carlos and Catarina dining at the historic Figueiredo House, Goa, India
Carlos and Catarina with his cousin Fátima (centre)
The Figueiredo House, Goa
The Figueiredo House is possibly one of the largest homes in the state of Goa. Spanning 50,000 sqft, it was constructed in 1590 by members of the Saraswat Brahmin Podiar family who fled to Goa to escape the bubonic plague. They settled in the village of Loutilom, South Goa and converted to Christianity, changing their name to Figueiredo. The family rose to prominence in Goa, becoming politicians, diplomats, lawyers, academics and entrepreneurs. The house became a symbol of their status, wealth, values and sophistication as one of Goa's most prominent families.
The house bears the hallmarks of a traditional Goan villa, with a wrap-around balcão, central courtyard, vaulted ceilings and large alcove windows to take in the surrounding gardens. It was designed by Jesuit priests from the nearby Rachol Seminary, just to the south. The house was enlarged in the 18th Century to accomodate an ornamental wing and was used for entertainment needs of its extended family. This section of the house (known as the "new house") now serves as a museum with its dining room, ballroom, master bedroom and altar room open to the public. It holds many of the family's valued artifacts, and antiques each with their own story and history dating back centuries.
The interiors of the house are layered with extravagant decorations, French and Italian tiles, Belgium chandeliers and walls that are hand painted with extravagant florals and arabesques. There are many historical references to the early Portuguese on the walls and furnishings of the house. The furniture itself evokes a strong sense of a bygone era and an intricate style of craftsmanship that has almost died with the passage of time.
The Figueiredo House continues to be lovingly preserved by Fátima and her son Pedro. In addition to the museum that members can visit, there are rooms that can be rented by guests seeking a unique home stay away from the tourist areas of Goa.
Hong Kong Connection
The Fugueiredo family has a well known Hong Kong connection . Celeste Maria "Chelly" Figueiredo, born 28 July 1904 (pictured below at her wedding day to her husband Braz Herculano de Selavisa Alves) lived on the corner of York Road and Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong until her death in the early 2000s. She came from a large family of 8 children and her sister Alda Maria de Figueiredo lived with her until her dying days in the same York Road home. Many old members will remember "Aunty Chelly", "Uncle Braz" and "Aunty Alda".
Chelly and Alda's ancestor that moved from Goa to Macau, was João Eleutério de Figueiredo (born, 21 July 1790, Loutilim, Goa) and married in Macau to Ana Teresa Brandão on 17 May 1831 (St Dominigos, Sé, Macau.) Their son José Miguel Victor de Figueiredo (died Hong Kong 18 February 1895), Chelly and Alda's grandfather, moved to Hong Kong in the 19th Century thus establishing the family in the British colony.
Their house in York Road remains there to this day and is owned by none other than Hong Kong action movie star Jacky Chan.