The Architecture, History, Tradition and Atmosphere of the Churches of Panamá
Panamá is mainly a Roman Catholic country. Since it's discovery in the 15th century, Panamá has a history of missionary congregations and communities.
It started in 1510 when Santa María la Antigua, the first Catholic mission, was founded in the province of Darién, Republic of Panamá, and today, is the matron of Panamá.
Then, when the old city of Panamá was burned by pirates, also in the 15th century, and the new city was built in what we call today "Casco Viejo", a gold altar was hidden for security, and placed in St. Joseph Church. (There's a picture of the gold altar to the right and a video below.) This gold alter is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Unfortunately, it is located in a poor neighborhood, and survives basically on donations.
In Casco Viejo, there are many Catholic churches with beautiful Spanish architecture, and when the city expanded to Bella Vista and other neighborhoods, other churches were built. There are two that stand out for their importance and beauty. The first is the Minor Basilic of St. John Bosco (Don Bosco) the community of which has been in Panamá for 100 years, taking care of young boys with great love and care. I included pictures of the outside of Don Bosco and the dome. The official day of Don Bosco is January 31, a day that Panamanians celebrate with great devotion and a procession that attracts a larger group of people than all political candidates together would like to have. The other church is Our Lady of Carmelo (Iglesia del Carmen), at a very short distance away, that has the most beautiful baroque architecture and bells in the city of Panamá.
In addition, all over the city, as well as the "interior" (the countryside, after you cross the Panamá Canal), there are hundreds and hundreds of churches that the people of Panamá attend with veneration and devotion on a daily or special events basis.
Two special events in Panamá are the Cristo of Atalaya (in the province of Veraguas) and Cristo Negro (located in Portobelo, Colón) where thousands of pilgrims come for celebration. Both are worth visiting for their historical importance.
One of the churches most known for its history is the Catholic church of Nata de los Caballeros, one of the first churches built in the continent. Nata de los Caballeros maintains very antique traditions like the "Nights of Columbus" who use their beautiful uniforms for special occasions.
In addition, other denominations and churches are also represented in Panamá, as the country offers a varied freedom of religions, including, but not limited to a large Jewish community, a non-denominational church, and many others that locals or visitors can chose of their own free will.
In other words, a typical church in Panamá varies with the location and town. But one thing has to be said: All of them have their open arms for you.
Here's a YouTube of the Golden Altar:
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