We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Want the lowest hotel prices? You're in the right place. We check 200+ sites for you.
Map
Satellite
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Get directions
Address: Avenida A & Calle 8, Panama City, Panama
Phone Number:
2288943
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.

read more
Book In Advance
More Info
US$104.99*
and up
Panama City and Canal Sightseeing Tour
More Info
US$95.00*
and up
Panama City: Two Sides of San Felipe
More Info
US$138.00*
and up
Luxury Half Day Panama Canal and City Tour

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 499 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 100
    Excellent
  • 82
    Very good
  • 34
    Average
  • 1
    Poor
  • 3
    Terrible
In disrepair but still a must-see

This is one of several churches in the Casco Viejo area. It is probably the least restored of the active churches but is still an interesting spot. The gold leaf altar is a... read more

5 of 5 bubblesReviewed 6 days ago
William B
,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Add Photo Write a Review

499 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
Language
  • More
Showing 220: English reviews
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
113 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 days ago NEW

This is one of several churches in the Casco Viejo area. It is probably the least restored of the active churches but is still an interesting spot. The gold leaf altar is a must-see. Hopefully the restoration funding that has improved several other churches in the area will make it's way to this historic building.

Helpful?
Thank William B
UK
Level Contributor
23 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

Nothing special to say about this church. Just another 2min stop on your trip. If you passing by then you can stop for a moment but if you missed it you will not cry.

Helpful?
Thank M M
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
75 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

Although the history of the altar being painted black is contested - it is a beautiful altar and church to visit.

Helpful?
Thank Diana15241
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,068 reviews
497 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 420 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 weeks ago

San Jose is a pretty little church, and a nice place to take a short break from the brutal heat and humidity!

Helpful?
Thank rollngstone
South Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
187 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Have tried to see this church several times but always it was closed. It has a famous altar in it that is worth the trip. Apparently it was painted black so pirates wouldn't know it was golden. The gold shows now though. Lovely artwork and part of a old Panama church restoration project. Free to enter and to take pictures... More 

Helpful?
Thank Scott W
Level Contributor
94 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 December 2016

The myth is the altar was coated with mud or tar to disguise the "gold" from which it is made so the pirates would not steal it. I was disappointed it was a myth. The outside of the church is badly in need of repair but it is worth a peek inside.

Helpful?
Thank Lori Z
Annapolis, Maryland
Level Contributor
18 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 November 2016

Short stop on a walk around Casco Viejo with a story of faith vs pirates vs fable about a golden altar.

Helpful?
Thank 2NavyVeterans
Maple Grove, Minnesota
Level Contributor
146 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 November 2016

A visit to this church is a great way to learn a bit about the history of Panama and see a beautiful church at the same time. Worth the stop.

Helpful?
Thank JusticeSalmon
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
105 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 30 October 2016

The church interior is beautiful. If you are in the Old City then I would stop by. It doesn't take much time to see as it is a small church.

Helpful?
Thank ectravelermd
Boynton Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
21 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 October 2016

The Altar of the Church is plated with Gold Leaf. BiG. History has it that the Pirate Morgan had sacked the City. The Church's Priest painted the Altar Black to hide its wealth. When Morgan met the priest he was told that there was nothing special about it and asked Morgan for 1000 ducans to help renovate it. Morgan lkauged... More 

Helpful?
Thank DavidFL M

Travellers who viewed San Jose Church also viewed

Panama City, Panama Province
Panama City, Panama Province
 
Panama City, Panama Province
Panama City, Panama Province
 

Been to San Jose Church? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing

Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of San Jose Church and other visitors
2 questions
Ask a question
Sioux Falls
1 month ago
Nashville, Illinois
over a year ago

See all questions (2)

Questions? Get answers from San Jose Church staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
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?