Immaculate Conception Chapel

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The small Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary is on the road from Qala to Hondog, next to the cemetery.

It is one of the earliest Marian shrines on the island and dates back to 1575, although it is thought to have been built on an early Christian site. It was enlarged in 1650 and for a while was the parish church. It was refurbished and re gilded 1982-8 and looks splendid. The main attraction is the altarpiece, an oil painting attributed to Federico Barocci di Urbino.

It is a small plain rectangular building with a small statue of the Virgin in a niche above the doorway, with Ave Maria and coloured lights strung across the front.

Inside, the nave walls are painted grey. The choir is narrower and the walls painted dark green with gold decoration. There is a carved wooden mass altar with figures underneath. The high altar on the end wall has big candlesticks and decorative gilt pillars on either side.

The nave ceiling is ornate with dark grey panels, gold carving and paintings. There is a small side altar to the left with a gilt statue of the Virgin Mary with cherubs next to it. It has massive candlesticks with tall candles and a crucifix above. The nave has many paintings on the walls, small statues and stations of the cross.

There is one small stained glass window on either side, a small window above the chancel arch and a round window above the main door. Above the door is a wooden balcony with the organ.

This is a delightful building and well worth searching out.

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