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The oldest, and by far the most atmospheric, Portuguese-flavoured districts of Panaji are squeezed between the hillside of Altinho and the banks of Ourem Creek, and make for attractive wandering with their narrow streets, overhanging balconies and quaint air of Mediterranean yesteryear.
Fontainhas, said to take its name from the Fountain of Phoenix spring, which stands near the Maruti Temple, is the larger of the two districts, comprising pastel-shaded houses that head up Altinho hill. The land here was originally reclaimed in the late 18th century by a returning self-made Goan, known as ‘the Mosmikar’, so-called for the riches he had amassed during a stay in Mozambique.
Located to the north of Fontainhas, the tiny area around the main post office is known as Sao Tomé. The post office was once the tobacco-trading house for Panaji, and the building to the right of it was the state mint. The square that these buildings face once housed the town pillory, where justice turned into spectacle when executions took place. It was here that several conspirators involved in the Pinto Revolt were put to death, for plotting to overthrow Portuguese rule in 1787.