One of the most famous of Goa‘s churches, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception lies in the capital city of Panjim. Its pristine look and location in bustling Panjim may make it seem like this is not like the ancient churches of Velha Goa, but the fact is that this just as old, with a rich history of its own. The church holds the famed bell that was retrieved from the ‘ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace. This bell is supposedly the second-largest in Goa, after the Se Cathedral‘s Golden Bell. ALSO READ: How the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated in Panaji and Goa
The history of the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception can be traced back all the way to 1541, when it was but a chapel built for sailors to say their prayers before heading out to sea to Velha Goa, or to thank their god for a safe journey to Panjim. The chapel was rebuilt later in 1619, and the church that was constructed then is what you see today. A mix of local Goan architecture and the intricate Portuguese-Baroque style, what you get is a beautiful blend of Indian and European. The facade has two distinctive towers and a belfry that stands above both of them. The three structures can actually be seen across most of Panjim, and are often collectively referred to as the Crown of the city. CHECK OUT: Churches of Goa: 5 Churches in and around Panaji to usher in the Yuletide spirit
Interestingly, the distinctive zigzag double staircase here, with its 78 steps, was actually built much later. After reclaiming the land in front of the church, the staircase was built in 1871. This was around the same time that the belfry and the pediment were strengthened to support the famed Augustinian bell. Inside, the church has a relatively simple structure, which is a sharp contrast from the intricacies you see in the churches of Old Goa. Still, the simplicity is elegant in its own way, and the altar and sub-altars that flank it are the highlights. The altar is dedicated Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, or Nossa Senhora da Immaculada Conceicao, and the sub-altars are dedicated to the Crucifixion of Christ and Our Lady of the Rosary.
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