The words “villa” and “luxury” are deeply intertwined. As demand for villas in Goa continues to grow, we felt it important to trace the history of this unique, luxurious architectural style.
The word “villa” originally refers to a country house owned by a Roman nobleman – a place of refuge and escape to the hot summers.
In order to understand how the villa concept came to Goa, and how villas became part of Goa’s real estate and architectural evolution, we’ve chosen to showcase different styles of villa in different countries, from different time period.
Today, villas can be found in many different styles, depending on the location and the architectural traditions of the area. For example, villas in Mediterranean countries such as Italy or Spain may feature terracotta roofs, stucco exteriors, and courtyards, while villas in tropical locations such as Goa typically feature verandahs, courtyard gardens and open-plan living spaces. Villas are large and luxurious single-family homes, often located in a rural or suburban area, featuring amenities such as private gardens, swimming pools, and guesthouses.
Some villas are used as primary or permanent residences, while others are used as vacation homes or rental properties. They are often considered as a luxury real estate investment and property type, and can command higher prices due to the level of amenities and luxury they offer.
The history of villa architecture is a long and varied one, with different styles and designs emerging in different parts of the world throughout history.
The Roman Villa was a popular form of residential architecture during the Roman Republic and Empire. These villas were typically large, luxurious houses, often located in the countryside, and were designed to be comfortable and functional, with features such as courtyards, peristyles, and thermal baths.
Italian Renaissance Villa
During the Italian Renaissance, the villa became a symbol of wealth and status. Many wealthy Italian families built grand villas in the countryside, often designed by famous architects of the time such as Andrea Palladio. These villas were typically grand and symmetrical, with features such as loggias, terraced gardens, and frescoed ceilings.
English Country House
In England, villa architecture took on a different form, known as the English Country House. These houses were typically grand and symmetrical, with features such as grand staircases, formal gardens, and porticos. The style was popular among the English upper class and is still found in many rural areas of the country.
In France, villa architecture took on a different form, known as the Château. These houses were typically grand and symmetrical, with features such as formal gardens, grand staircases, and towers. The style was popular among the French upper class and is still found in many rural areas of the country.
Spanish Colonial Villa
In Spain, the villa architecture took on a different form, known as the Spanish Colonial Villa. These houses were typically grand and symmetrical, with features such as courtyards, verandahs, and tile roofs. The style was popular in Spanish colonies, such as Mexico and South America, and is still found in many rural areas of those countries.
The Spanish Colonial style also became popular in Southern California, favoured by early movie moguls in the golden years of Hollywood.
The Greek Revival style
The Greek Revival style is an architectural style that emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and was inspired by ancient Greek architecture. It’s characterized by its use of classical elements such as columns, pediments, and friezes, which are used to create a sense of grandeur and elegance. It’s considered as one of the most influential architectural styles of the 19th century, and many examples can still be seen today, especially in coastal regions, which evoke the feeling of Mediterranean and Greek architecture.
Greek Island Style
The traditional Greek villa, often referred to as the “Greek island style”, is typically a single-story building, with a pitched tile roof and a veranda or terrace. The architecture is simple, with clean lines and minimal ornamentation, and the use of local materials such as stone, wood, and clay. The white color of the villas is often complemented by blue or green shutters, doors and window frames, which helps to create a harmonious aesthetic. The white color is typically achieved by using a type of lime paint called “whitewash” which is made by mixing water, lime, and pigment. This type of paint is not only used for the exterior of the buildings, but also used for the interior to reflect the light and create a bright and airy atmosphere inside.
The Manueline Style Portuguese Villa
The Portuguese villa style, also known as the Manueline style, is an architectural style that emerged in Portugal during the late 15th and early 16th centuries, during the reign of King Manuel I. It’s characterized by its ornate and elaborate decoration, inspired by the maritime discoveries of the time, and the influence of the Gothic and Mudéjar styles. Portuguese villas in this style typically feature a symmetrical facade, with a central entrance and evenly spaced windows. The entrance is often grand and imposing, with ornate decoration such as intricate carvings, sculpted figures, and heraldic motifs. The roof is typically pitched and may have dormer windows. Inside, the villas often have high ceilings, with a central hallway leading to the main living spaces.
How Villas came to Goa
Goa was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years, and during this time, many grand villas were built by wealthy Portuguese families. The exact date of when the first villa in Goa was built is not clear. However, it is known that during the Portuguese colonial period, many grand villas were built by wealthy Portuguese settlers and officials in Goa, beginning in the 16th century.
During the colonial period, the Portuguese introduced the Indo-Portuguese style, which combined elements of traditional Indian and Portuguese architecture. This style can be seen in many of the state’s grand villas, government buildings and public spaces. The use of local materials and techniques, with a blend of European architectural elements such as arches, cornices and balustrades, create a unique hybrid style. For more about Portuguese-influenced villas in Goa, read our article on the subject.
It’s important to note that Goa has been inhabited since ancient times, and the first human settlements in Goa date back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic era, around 100,000 years ago. However, the villa architecture as we know it today, with its blend of European and Indian elements, was introduced by the Portuguese during their colonial period, and the earliest examples of these types of villas date back to the 16th century.
Last modified: July 21, 2023