As you already know, Casco Viejo is a wonderful place to find outstanding historic architecture styles of many types of buildings. It surpasses any place I know in old Spanish Colonial churches in Central America.
For example, a church that stands out in Casco Viejo is la Iglesia de la Merced located a block away from el Parque Catedral. This attractive church was built in 1680 after having been moved, stone by stone, from its previous site in Panama Viejo.
Many believe that this church should be included in the World Guiness Book of Records for being the luckiest building in the world.
The original church was built in the 16th century and survived a number of fires and earthquakes before the final plundering of the city by Welch privateer, Sir Henry Morgan, in 1671. La Merced, which was one of the few buildings not affected by the subsequent fire (ordered by the city’s governor, Juan Pérez de Guzmán), served as headquarters of Morgan’s forces during their month-long stay.
When Spanish authorities ordered the relocation of the city to present-day San Felipe, black slaves underwent the painstaking task of removing La Merced’s baroque-style façade stone by stone to re-assemble it in its present location, where it has survived the “small fire” and “big fires”, which almost destroyed San Felipe in the 18th century, as well as the 1880 earthquake.
The first La Merced church has an enormous historic significance. It was there where, in 1531 Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro took the Holy Communion before setting sailing to conquer the rich Inca empire in Perú.
Enjoy the photograph of this prominent church in Casco Viejo. Here we go.