|Coordinates:||8.3320 N 80.5152 W|
|No:||327 (list of all attractions)|
|Values:||Architecture, Visual, History|
|Address:||North America, Central America, Panama, Coclé, centre of Natá town|
|Name in Spanish:||Basílica de Natá, Iglesia de Natá|
|Full name in Spanish:||La Basílica Menor de Santiago Apóstol|
|Year of construction:||1522 - late 17th century|
|Art style:||Renaissance, Baroque|
|Branch of Christianity:||Catholics|
Which church is the oldest on the mainland American continent? It is well possible that it is the beautiful Natá Church in Panama.
Oldest church in all of America? Most likely the oldest is Hvalsey Church in Greenland, which was built from stones in the late 10th century.
Natá de Los Caballeros
The small Natá de Los Caballeros town retains its feel of provincial colonial town up to this day. This town was established by Spaniards in May 20, 1522 and named after local cacique Anata who ruled this area. "Los Caballeros" was added to commemorate 100 Spanish knights quartered here. Town avoided the fate of many other Caribbean and Central American towns and stayed in its original location.
This town was preserved by the slow development of Panamian economy. Now, when Panama is among the fastest developing countries in the world, Natá wants to invest in preservation of history - and the valuable Basílica de Natá was one of the first to be renovated.
Renaissance and Baroque
Natá Church is one of the most significant monuments of architecture in Panama, protected since 1924 and intentionally kept in its original state since at least 1904.
Construction of this church was started in the times, when architecture (at least Spanish architecture) was governed by canon of Renaissance. The construction period was very long and today we see a structure which basically is in Baroque style.
Especially valuable are the ornate Renaissance altarpieces. Church has four bells, each with its own name - Blessed Sacrament, Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph and St. Roa and finally - Santiago the Great. Bells were made in 1690, except for the last, which was cast in 1804.
See Natá Church on the map of Panama!