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St. Francis Church

St Francis' Church at Fort Cochin was built in the year 1503, by the Portuguese traders. They came here with Admiral Pedro Alvarez de Cabral, via the same route taken by the legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who landed at Calicut in 1498. Initially, the church was a simple wooden structure, dedicated to St Bartholomew. In 1506, the Raja of Cochin permitted the Portuguese Viceroy, Dom Francisco Almedia, to reconstruct the structure in stone. The new church was completed in 1516 and was dedicated to St Antony. The ownership of the Church of St Francis then passed into the hands of the protestant Dutch, who captured Cochin in 1663. They converted it into their government church and it remained in the possession of the Dutch until 1795. Thereafter, its ownership passed to the British, when they captured Cochin from the Dutch. St Francis’ Church is also famous because Vasco da Gama, the first European to discover a route to India, died here in 1524 on his third visit and was buried in this church. Though his remains were shipped to Lisbon after 14 years, the gravestone is still seen here.

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