Golden Altar of St. Joseph Church

Famous Golden Altar of the Church of San Jose in Casco Viejo is considered one of the greatest treasures of Panama. The church located on Avenida A near the corner of Calle 8 in the Casco Viejo of Panama City. The famous “Altar de Oro” was designed in the seventeenth century in Baroque style. Originally was located in the temple of the same name San Jose in Panama La Vieja, which pertained to religious Augustionos. In 1671 the English Privateer Henry Morgan attacked and sacked the this settlement. The Order of Augustines decided to move their church to the new town and in 1675 inaugurated a new monastery and church. The altar was completely renovated in 1915 by Mr Donderis.

Unfortunately I have to disappoint your hopes, but the altar is not realy gold. This massive baroque altar is carved in mahogany and covered in gold leaf. If you take a trip to Casco Viejo, do not forget to visit the San Jose Church and admire the majestic beauty of the famous altar.

One of the things you might want to see when you visit Panama is the famous golden altar of the Church of San Jose in Casco Viejo. The Inglesia de San Jose (the Church of San Jose) is a small almost nondescript building on a narrow street in the San Felipe district of Panama City. Inside is the famous Golden Altar, which is made of carved wood and is covered in gold flake. Commonly known in Spanish as the “Altar de Oro” (Golden Altar), it was originally in a church in “Old Panama.” When English pirate Henry Morgan attacked the city the jesuits painted the altar black to hide the gold. The pirates left it alone, thinking it was worthless. After Morgan sacked and burned “Old Panama” the Jesuit monks of the Order of St. Agustine moved the altar to the new church and its present location.

When Morgan and his men’s approach the settlement the priest tried a desperate strategy to preserve the altar. He painted it completely black. When Morgan entered the church the priest was able to convince him that the alter before him was made of simple wood not gold. Morgan of course demanded what had happened to the “other altar.” The priest told him that the famous altar had been stolen by another pirate. He even convinced Henry Morgan to donate some money to a fund to replace the altar. Morgan is supposed to have said to the priest, “I don’t know why, but I think you are more of a pirate than I am.”

Como Llegar

The church with the altar is located on Avenida A near the corner of Calle 8 in the Casco Viejo of Panama City. If you want to visit the "Altar de Oro" is advisable do it like a part of walking tour through the "Casco Viejo". It is the best way how to perform the sight-seeing of the old quoter with its mix of colonial architecture. One option how to get to Old Town is to take a bus to the "5 Mayo" square and from there walk along the "Avenida Central" to Casco Viejo. The walking distance is about 1.6 kilometers. It is also possible to take a bus which pass throw the "Calle 12" and get out in the midle of "Avenida Cetral" and so save some steps. Of course you can take a taxi, the trip from downtown takes less than 15 minutes.

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