Towers and Bells in Panamá

Since colonial times, Panamá has had a traditional cultural and historical trajectory.

The Torre de Panamá la Vieja (the Old Panama Tower) in San Francisco, Panamá is now a World Heritage site. The importance of this tower goes  back to the 16th century when the pirates burned down the city and a new tower was built in the quarter Panamanians now call  Casco Viejo.

Other examples of exceptional historical buildings are old churches through-out the country, most of them in Casco Viejo, others in different neighborhoods, or the interior, like the very famous “Natá de los Caballeros”, in the province of  Coclé, Republic of Panamá.  This city was founded May 20, 1522 and named in honor of  Natá, an native chief.  King Carlos from Spain sent 100 noblemen (de los Caballeros) and commanded them to maintain the Spanish dominion and culture, and to spread the Catholic faith. Natá is also the first city built in the Pacific coast of the American continent.

Returning to Casco Viejo, the visitor learns the surprising history of the golden altar at San José (St. Joseph's) church, that was hidden and painted black to obscure its value from the pirates. La Merced (Our Lady of Mercy) is where all families living in the area at that time were baptized. It is now a historic museum with valuable religious items. After the pirates torched the city in 1671, the stones were transported one by one to the present site to build the new church. It still looks like it did in 1616 when it was first built in Old Panamá. La Merced has 4 great bells that ring on every important event.

The Cathedral is the official church for all state events and is situated in an old plaza with a picturesque gazebo, close to the Presidential Palace, the Canal Museum, the Emerald Museum, the city municipality building, the national theater, important government buildings, the Bóvedas (a former fort with beautiful ocean and city views), the French Embassy, the cultural institute, restaurants and art and craft center, among other attractions.

Other noteworthy buildings include:

  • Nuestra Señora del CarmenOur Lady of Carmele) is a beautiful church with baroque style and spectacular bells that ring during Mass and on special occasions. It was donated by a former president of Panamá in 2001.
  • San Juan Bautista church (St. John Baptist) is fully made out of black stones and situated in Río Abajo.
  • Iglesia Bautista (Baptist church) is in Colón. This was the first Baptist church in Panamá. It´s also made with stones and has beautiful old colonial architecture.
  • Catedral de Santa María (St. Mary´s Cathedral) is also in Colón. It is a beautiful old church serving as the most important church in the city.
  • Iglesia Santa María (St. Mary´s Parish) in Ancón, Panamá City was founded in 1914, the same year of the inauguration of the Panamá Canal.  Is a small beautiful church that also serves the English-speaking community with a big building for community services and a grotto honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. It also serves as guidance for St. Mary´s School, one of the fully bilingual schools in Panamá City, and is known for its excellent curriculum. (I can tell from personal experience.)

Due lack of space here, it´s impossible to mention them all, but Panamá has tons of towers, churches and buildings to visit.

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