Friday 4 March 2016

Palácio Do Deão - Flea Market Chic Goan Style

Furnishing a home from flea market finds is pretty normal to us vintage lovers & frugal living types, but the magnificent Palácio Do Deão in the village of Quepem in South Goa takes bargain hunting to another level.

The Palácio Do Deão was built in 1789 by Portuguese nobleman and celebrated philathropist, Jose Paulo. Upon his death in 1835 the Palácio was bequeathed to the church and occupied by a succession of priests. In the 1980s it was handed over to the nuns of Quepem church and run as a home for destitute women but, after a few years, the task of maintaining such a big house in Goa's harsh tropical climate proved a Herculean task and the Palácio was abandoned and left to decay.

The derelict building caught the attention of a local Goan couple, Ruben & Celia Vasco de Gama, who bought it and spent the next fifteen years painstakingly doing it up themselves, travelling to Lisbon to hunt down the original plans and trawling the flea markets of India to find period furniture and fittings to replace the ruined originals.

Palácio Do Deão is a family home but visitors are welcome to turn up and knock the door any day of the week. After an informal tour by one of the owners (in our case, Ruben) you're welcome to explore. 

There is no admission charge but donations to help with the on-going restorations are encouraged and, by prior arrangement, an Indo-Portuguese lunch can be laid on and served on the gorgeous terrace. We didn't eat but the veg Xacuti smelt incredible.

South Goa is littered with beautiful ancestral homes abandoned in favour of flashy new builds with double garages and electric gates. Ruben & Celia wanted to prove to other Goans that, even with no previous experience, buying and restoring a heritage house isn't an impossible task and the end result is infinitely more attractive and often much cheaper.

I just wish I could find stuff this good at English flea markets.

Even the floor has been completely replaced, I saw photos of Celia in overalls, tiling the floor with her two toddlers looking on.

Bloody hell, I never noticed the state of that archway at the time!
The exterior of the Palácio is incredible, the only Eighteenth Century Portuguese formal gardens to ever have existed in Goa and a world away from the regimented style of the country houses you'll find in the UK but be warned, douse yourself in mozzie repellent before you visit, we got bitten to buggery as the gardens back on to the River Kushawati.

When the Vasco de Gama family bought the Palácio Do Deão the garden was little more than a jungle. Maybe one day ours will look like this.

If you do fancy visiting then be warned, the Goan taxi mafia are notorious for overcharging tourists. Rather than taking a cab from the beach, catch a bus to Margao and jump off by the city tuk tuk stand where you'll find prices to every destination in the state of Goa displayed on a notice board. Tourist taxis try to charge you £25 for a return trip, whereas a tuk tuk will cost £7 and, in a state where a litre of Bacardi costs less than £2 and a room is £5 a night, £18 is a lot of money to lose.

How many Goan tuk tuk drivers does it take to get to Quepem? 
If Indian interior porn's your thing do check out my blog post on the wonderfully dilapidated Menezes Braganza House (HERE), the jungle palace we visited last year. You'll find the rest of our Palácio Do Deão pictures HERE.

See you soon!


  1. What a beautiful home! I can't imagine places like this being deserted for soulless new builds xx

    Ps - scary archway!

  2. Bizarre - enjoying your trip account and imagery- and then looking outside at huge goose feather snowflakes lol Thank you for sharing this - those beautiful long white curtains and all that carved wood (sigh)


  3. I love visiting historic buildings, it is like taking a journey through time: this is even more impressive, in an exotic environment, these contaminations between cultures are absolutely fascinating! And it's all so relaxing .. this is a true vacation!


    P.S. I have not yet seen "The Bridge Of Spies", I want to see it soon!

  4. Magnificent home, but the minute I saw that arch I was wondering what was holding it up! Yikes! ;)

  5. Oh, how gorgeous! It's lovely that the house has been restored and the owners are so proud of it.

  6. What a great project and in the sunshine too. I'm trying to find my pics from when we visited the Chandra house, your India trip has brought back happy memories. I've really enjoyed it.
    See you next week
    Lynn xxx
    ps. I think i'm doing finds of the fair

  7. What a task that must have been! So fun that they allow you to tour it even though they live in it.


  8. What an incredible home and I love it's story. Look at all the treasures too. I wish I could find things like that without having to part with stupid money!
    Fab. Thanks for sharing lovely.
    Loves ya!

  9. What a beautiful home! Those religious relics are worth a fortune. I wonder if they are related to the original Vasco Da Gama or just have a family named after the Portuguese explorer.

  10. Woah! What a treat to wander around there. I love all the plaster reliefs, and that garden!! XX

  11. Wow, whar a wonderful place. I really do think you should write a book! x

  12. Glad to see the 'ghost' post has materialised!

    What a marvellous home! Why would anyone want to live in a new build when they have such beautiful historic houses?

    I loved the 4 poster bed and the statue of the girl with plaits in the garden. There were some wonderful artefacts, too. I wish our flea markets were that good!

    Have a lovely weekend!



  13. Well done to them for taking on the restoration. Its a miracle that archway didn't cave in and brain you lol! x

  14. Amazing! I remember your post from last year too - stunning architecture and a revelation for me as I was woefully ignorant of Goa's history and hadn't realised that there was so much Portuguese colonial architecture there

  15. If I fixed up a place like that I'd invite people in to see it too-what an accomplishment!

    Since I know I'll never get there, I appreciate you taking me on the tour.

  16. What a gorgeous colonial home! Love their collection of antiques too. I wish my Kashmiri hubbie would go to Goa, it's a little boring going to Srinagar for all our vacations.

  17. What a stunning place. I suppose I can see why many people think it's easier just to build a new house rather than restore an old one, but your photos clearly show what can be achieved with hard work and determination. Elegant, beautiful, authentic and tons of atmospheric charm - bit like yourself, love!
    Don't worry about that arch, bet it remains precariously holding itself together for another 50 years!
    You and Jon are so at home in India, I hope you are busy pitching that travel guide to publishers... Cos it's not like you're busy or anything, ha!
    Have a great weekend, love you! Xxxx

  18. It's incredible what can be accomplished as a labour of love. That place is awe-inspiring. The stories that place could tell... Thanks for the tour.

  19. I am so nosey, I just love looking at photos of these kinds of places!! I wouldn't like the mozzies, I tend to get an allergic reaction to them and swell up and feel very grumpy... x

  20. Hats off to the Vasco De Gamas! I wish more beautiful places could be saved but it takes strong brave souls. This place is so beautiful. And I just love your vacation wardrobe. Beauty all around.

  21. Oh wow yum! I do love it when people see past the temptation of new shiny and flash and do something old and fabulous up in a manor it should be done. Love all your photos and tour talk, you Vix are the best!!

  22. Stunning - I love the carved wood and enormously high ceilings. We do love the old things, eh? they seem to have so much more weight. xox


  23. I love doing home tours, especially of houses where people actually live. This one's a corker, these Vasco da Gamas sure are hard workers. I also wonder if they're related to the famous V de G? I love those carved four posters, the chandelier and the statue of the girl. Imagine having the opportunity and resources to do up a house like that. Must feel like a lifetime's achievement. I'm really glad they're generous enough to share it. I love those informal shots of you looking round. Mozzies, not so much. Some more great tips here Vix. Xxxxx

  24. Wait a minute. That bag tho! That big old awesome bag you're carrying!!!

  25. It looks amazing I love all the natural wood in the house and the contrast of white, dee xx

  26. beautiful house! how gorgeous! xxxxx

  27. What a fabulous place - I love the idea that you can tour the house with one of the owners. I suppose it's a good way to help offset the costs of the restoration.

  28. amazing!! such a magnificent building and such a great job they do!
    loving this post

  29. Bloody hell - that archway! What a beautiful home - and obviously much loved. Can you imagine people opening their homes in that way in this country?!


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Lots of love, Vix