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Address: Panama City, Panama
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Fee: No
Description: Built soon after the first Spanish settlement in the 16th century, this...
Built soon after the first Spanish settlement in the 16th century, this small church features the famous Golden Altar (Altar de Oro), which is made entirely of pure gold.
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Visit San Jose Church like an insider
Top Rated
$105*
and up
Panama City and Canal Sightseeing Tour

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 254 reviews
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  • 114
    Excellent
  • 104
    Very good
  • 30
    Average
  • 3
    Poor
  • 3
    Terrible
Smaller but beautiful

The altar is stunning with gold. The first time I went, the church was closed, but wandered back later and it was open. So, check in advance the open times if you wish to go... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed April 19, 2015
RandyKasal
,
Des Moines, Iowa
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254 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Date | Rating
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  • English first
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English first
Aliso Viejo, California
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
7 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2015

Another one of the items on the to do list that seems to run on Panamanian time which means it could be open or could not be open it's entirely dependent on of the people who run it feel like showing up to work that day. There are no posted hours anywhere and even locals don't know when it opens... More 

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Des Moines, Iowa
Top Contributor
670 reviews 670 reviews
484 attraction reviews
196 helpful votes 196 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2015

The altar is stunning with gold. The first time I went, the church was closed, but wandered back later and it was open. So, check in advance the open times if you wish to go inside. Really nice church inside.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 attraction reviews
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2015

We've enjoyed telling the story of the pirate Morgan and his visit to San Jose Church to steal gold, but instead, ending up giving the church a donation. Research it.

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Ozark Acres, Arkansas
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2015

very interesting. Great preservation of history, architecture and design. Stained glass was breathtaking. A must see for all visitors.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Sao Paulo
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
39 attraction reviews
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2015

the church is not always open. check before you go. gorgeous altar. it looks gold but it's carved in wood. but still worth visiting.

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Baltimore, Maryland
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
6 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2015

20 min of your time to see some amazing altars. Even if not for religious experience the historical significance is worth this stop.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Norwalk, Connecticut
Top Contributor
171 reviews 171 reviews
25 attraction reviews
139 helpful votes 139 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2015

It was wide open we walked in to light candles but they had these new wire up candles I put my money in but it didn't light up...could see why the priest painted it black so captain Morgan could not take it...what a great idea...

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
14 attraction reviews
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2015

Very details and amazing to see it. Also they can keep it for so long without any damages. Amazing. Thanks to our guide, Rudy, we know the history behind it. You definitely need a tour guide or read it before you go.

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Petersburg, Virginia
Top Contributor
83 reviews 83 reviews
14 attraction reviews
43 helpful votes 43 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 18, 2015

My tour group visited this church for about 30 minutes. The views were spectacular. The golden alter is an amazing tribute to God. The architecture is something special. We were able to walk around and take pictures without disturbing the parishioners who were very nice as well as understanding that we were touring the establishment.

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Top Contributor
237 reviews 237 reviews
104 attraction reviews
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2015

I have seen a lot of old churches, but I cannot remember that I have ever been so impressed by an alter as I have by this one, - gold everywhere. It was a big surprise because it was hard to see from outside that the Church was going to be so impressive inside!

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Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?