The name Goa Velha literally means Old Goa. Established by Sanapulla, the founder of the South Konkan Silahara dynasty, Goa Velha was the capital of Shilaharas and Kadamba rulers. According to historians, the place is mentioned as Gopakapattana in the epic Mahabharata and Govapuri or Gove in the Ramayana. Goa Velha was also famous for its port in ancient times. The remnants of this port are still visible.
The Pilar Monastery (built in 1613) located here is a major religious and educational center for Christian missionaries. The monastery, positioned on the site of an ancient Hindu temple, houses a museum displaying the remains of the temple sculptures, a couple of palm leaf manuscripts, a copy of the first Marathi translations of Gospels and ancient coins. Chamunda Devi Temple is a prominent shrine in this place. The famous Church of Our Lady of Pilar - a fine example of 17th century architecture - is another attraction.