The Panjim Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is placed on the hillside and just high above the Idalco Palace built by Adil Shah. Standing on the gallery of the church, you can see the entire view of the lovely Panjim city. It is one of Panjim’s best attractions located in the heart of Panjim city and is the first church of Goa, built in 1541.
It was built there because of the high ground it stood on. It was rebuilt in 1619. After Panjim became the capital city , the great bell of the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa or the “Bell of the Inquisition” was moved to this church from Aguada in 1841. At the same time, the renovation created the four tiered steps leading to the church.
The interior is simple and is dedicated to Mary. There are two altars on either side , the one on the left dedicated to Jesus and the one on the right to Our Lady of Rosary. On either side is a statue of St Peter and St Paul. In the south transept to the right of the main altar is the Chapel of St Francis Xavier, with his statue. It formerly stood in the Idalcao’s Palace and was moved here when the chapel there was dismantled in 1918.
In this century this area was hilly and residential. Land around was swampy covered by the field of paddy, coconuts groves and watery. It was in 1843 the land was developed by the Viceroy when he took over Panjim; and in the year 1855 the ‘Praca de Flores’ (Square of Flower’s) was built in front of the church. In the year 1619 the church was re-constructed by enlarging it further looking at the population growth.
The decoration of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception church is simple, but still it is amazing to the eyes because of it simplicity. In the year 1871, the great bell belonging to the Augustinian Church of Our Lady which is in Old Goa was brought here in Panjim Church to install. After the Golden Bell in Se Cathedral, this is second bell which is large and heavy in weight and due to this the whole pediment of the façade was renovated and increased in the size.
The Panjim Church has ordinary interior. The main altar is honoured to Mary Immaculate, and it has two more altars, on the left is Jesus crucified and to the right is Our Lady of the Rosary. On the both sides there are two marble statues, one of St. Peter and one of St. Paul. On the right of the main altar in the south transept there is a Chapel of St. Francis Xavier.
The area above the church on hilltop is called Bairro Altos de Pilotos because large beacons used to be lit here to guide ships into the estuary before the light house. On the right side of the church down to the lane little further is Secretariat Building. On the down the lane few steps is Jama Masjid and built in is a Muslim College. Further on the street is the Hindu Mahalaxmi Temple which is main temple in Panjim, In front of the church is the view of Municipal Garden, hotels, boutiques etc.
The feast of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception church is celebrated on 8th December every year. During its feast this church is beautifully decorated with lights and decoration and the entire Church Square is occupied by a lively fair. Infact this location of the church is so popular that many film shootings have been carried on this place. Standing on the high on the hill this church is indeed the crown of the Panjim city.