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San Jose Church, Panama City

(4.4/5 based on 500+ 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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7 days in Panama BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 2 days in Panama City BY A USER FROM EL SALVADOR April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Panama City BY A USER FROM EL SALVADOR April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: April, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 14 days in Central America BY A USER FROM CANADA May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 6 days in Panama City BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 60 days in Central America BY A USER FROM IRELAND October, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: October, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 11 days in Panama BY A USER FROM CANADA April, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 11 days in Panama BY A USER FROM CANADA April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in Panama BY A USER FROM CANADA April, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 8 days in Panama City BY A USER FROM NORWAY April, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: April, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 17 days in Panama BY A USER FROM LUXEMBOURG December, fast-paced, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced 9 days in Panama BY A USER FROM LUXEMBOURG December, fast-paced, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: December ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • After hearing the history of the church, I was glad I got to see it to imagine the effort it took preserve it.  more »
  • Many of the points of interest in Casco Viejo are ruins. Of the churches existing today, this one is the most interesting, featuring the Golden Altar (Altar de Oro). The story regarding Henry Morgan a...  more »
  • An old church in Casco Viejo, in need of renovation; else it may crumble away. Small church inside, with nice gold altar. Worth a quick stop if you are in the area  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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