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San Jose Church, Panama City

(4.3/5 based on 480+ reviews on the web)
The whitewashed walls, quaint bell tower, and large wooden door immediately give away the age of San Jose Church, built not long after the first Spanish settlement here in the 16th century. Enter to see the main attraction: its impressive main altar, carved from wood and covered in striking gold leaf. The story goes that when an English pirate attacked the city, the Jesuits painted the altar black to hide its value and convince the insurgents to leave it behind. While the pirates sacked the old town, the altar remained, and takes pride of place to this day. San Jose Church is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our custom trip planner, Panama City Edition.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This is one of several churches in the Casco Viejo area. It is probably the least restored of the active churches but is still an interesting spot. The gold leaf altar is a must-see. Hopefully the res...  more »
  • Nothing special to say about this church. Just another 2min stop on your trip. If you passing by then you can stop for a moment but if you missed it you will not cry. 
  • Es uno de los primeros templos construidos en el Casco Antiguo. Y forma parte del circuito turístico de los 6 templos del Casco Viejo. Tras un gran incendio en 1737, fue reconstruido. Con la ley de 18...  more »
Google
  • A very unassuming church outside. Inside is the incredible gold altar saved during pirate Henry Morgan's sacking of the first Panama city. More masterfully carved statuary you will find in other churches. This church is all about the alter - a must-see attraction, if you visit Casca Antiguo.
  • Worth the visit. Slow down during your trip and get some peaceful moments in there.
  • "Church of the Golden Altar" is a must to see in Panama, saved from the pirate Capt Morgan by being painted black is the history I heard growing up in Panama. Don't miss it, one of the high lights along with see the canal locks at Miraflores or Panama Viejo, the old town destroyed by Capt Morgan.
  • A small church packed with alters and statues. Main alter covered in gold. Gaudy and beautiful at the same time. Easy access. Quickly in and out. Rough neighborhood but plenty police in area.
  • San Jose Church was built in 1671. Golden altar in the chapel. During Panama struck the pirate Henry Morgan in the same year, the altar has been repainted black, fled the accident from looting. Seemingly modest church is the most monumental Church in the old city of Panama
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