Palace Of The Archbishops
Goa [Velha Goa/Old Goa], Goa, India
The simple austere lines of this palace have the merit of being the only example of civil architecture from Goa’s golden age to survive to the present day. It began to be built in the early 16th century along with the Sé Cathedral, to which this palace was directly linked. In 1608 Pyrard de la Valle describes the building as being completed, although the cathedral was then still under construction. Friar Aleixo de Meneses then governed the Archdiocese of Goa. The palace was most likely finished during his mandate, given that the entrance portico staircases and the halls bear sgrafitto decorations with the double-headed eagle, symbol of the Augustinian order to which he originally pertained. From the river side the building’s volumes lend it the appearance of a large castle-like palace, along similar lines as the Palace of the Fortress. On the side facing the city the building was originally arranged around a walled patio. It presents affinities with the Palace of the Fortress or of the Viceroys on various levels. Both palaces had the main entrance facing the city and with a portico and long outside staircase over a courtyard enclosed by high walls. The back likewise overlooked the Mandovi bar. In an old photograph by Sousa & Paul, the palace seen from the river still had various bodies and two long columned verandas, which Pyard de la Valle says also existed at the Palace of the Fortress. The design was very austere and aesthetically dry. The two bodies which make up the main elevation show a total absence of adornment, with straightframed windows and smooth projections bearing no decorative elements. The two porches that provide access to both ends of the main body indicate by their design that they were built in different periods. The main porch has plain features, while the second was either built or transformed in the 18th century. That intervention must have coincided with the large audience hall’s conversion into a chapel after the archbishops’ official residence moved to the Panelim Palace in the late 17th century. The palace’s interior programme is arranged around two very large halls corresponding to the antechamber and audience hall. The carved wooden cross-beams of strong Indian inspiration can still be seen on their ceilings, like those found in other large 18th century buildings. At the time, the ceilings would have been painted, as in the churches, but such work will have disappeared when the palace was abandoned. As in the Palace of the Viceroys, the audience hall was decorated with portraits of the archbishops. These were later placed in the archbishop’s palace in Panelim, indicates Denis de Kloguen, who lived in the latter palace as a guest of the archbishop.