Trip Planner:   Central America  /  Panama  /  Panama Province  /  Panama City  /  Religious Sites  /  San Jose Church
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.
Create a full Panama City itinerary
map

Plan your trip to Panama City

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans in Panama City by other users

11 days in Panama BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in Panama BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, outdoors, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: March, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 30 days in Central America, Caribbean & Middle East BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 57 days in Central America BY A USER FROM AUSTRIA March, outdoors, beaches, popular PREFERENCES: March, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 23 days in Central America & South America BY A USER FROM CANADA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Peru, Costa Rica & Panama BY A USER FROM CANADA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Panama, Costa Rica & South America BY A USER FROM CANADA April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 11 days in Panama City, Tampa & San Diego BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES March, popular PREFERENCES: March ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Panama BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES February, culture, outdoors, historic sites, hidden gems PREFERENCES: February, culture, outdoors, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 10 days in Central America BY A USER FROM COLOMBIA February, popular PREFERENCES: February ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 60 days in South America, Central America & United States BY A USER FROM ISRAEL 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 23 days in Central America BY A USER FROM CANADA June, culture, outdoors, romantic, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: June, culture, outdoors, romantic, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans
Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The myth is the altar was coated with mud or tar to disguise the "gold" from which it is made so the pirates would not steal it. I was disappointed it was a myth. The outside of the church is badly in...  more »
  • One of the fascinating sites of the old city. Definitely of interest. Remember about security in the evening.
    View original
  • This is a church small, located in the helmet old, which has an altar bathed in gold that not you must let of know and admire... dfate a turned by this part of the city to know this and other beauties of Panama...
    View original
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
    View original