Church of Our Lady of the Conception
Panaji [Panagi/Pangim/Panjim/Nova Goa], Goa, India
In 1541 a hermitage was founded on the west slope of Monte da Conceição [Conception Hill] in Panaji. It faced the Mandovi River mouth and was raised to parish church status in 1600. In 1619 the original building was demolished and the church rebuilt. The basic outline perimeter we see today dates from that time. The church has a single nave with wooden tiled roof and stone vaulted chancel. It also has a false transept. The chancel articulated by two semicircular niches on each side and the respective vault (groin, with penetrations) correspond to architectural renovations dating to the first half of the 18th century. There is an even later high choir. The façade up to the main cornice also dates to the 18th century renovation. In the 1870s a bell tower was added, with the bell from the old Augustinian convent in Old Goa; the tower tops were also altered. The staircase was built during the same period. It survives to this day and along with the façade is Panaji’s most well-known monument. Looking at the façade by Lopes Mendes, one can still discern part of the older staircases that were lateral and perpendicular to the church, between which there was originally a landing at the entrance level, as we can verify in late 18th century plans. The same drawing also shows a narrower staircase that coexisted with part of the old staircase, with a design somewhat different from the one existing nowadays. Also, the area that now corresponds to the staircase’s first landing was at the time a platform where the cross stood. It is thus probable that between the late 18th century and 1870 a first reform of the staircase was undertaken. The cross was removed from the site and altered after the first two decades of the 20th century. The monument to the Immaculate Conception situated in the church’s forecourt dates to late 1904; its pedestal contains a plaque dated 1954, the centennial of institution of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (and the monument’s 50th anniversary). The staircase is certainly part of a more allencompassing plan that included the Corte do Outeiro and the Municipal Square and enhanced the scenographic role always played by the Church of Our Lady of the Conception, as seen from the earliest known depictions of Panaji.