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Nata Church (Natá Church)

Natá Church, Panama
Natá Church / Editorpana, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  In short

Which church is the oldest on the mainland American continent? It is well possible that it is the beautiful Nata Church in Panama.

4.4 out of 10 stars 43.8%

GPS coordinates
8.3320 N 80.5152 W
Location, 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 – the late 17th century
Art style
Renaissance, Baroque
Branch of Christianity

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WorldYellow In detail

The oldest church in all of America? Most likely the oldest ones are in Greenland, walls of Hvalsey Fjord Church are standing since the early 14th century.

Natá de Los Caballeros

The small Natá de Los Caballeros town retains its feel of a provincial colonial town up to this day. This town was established by Spaniards on 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 the Panamanian economy. Now, when Panama is among the fastest developing countries in the world, Natá wants to invest in the preservation of history – and the valuable Basílica de Natá was one of the first to be renovated.

Renaissance and Baroque

Nata 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 a 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. The 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.

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