In western Panama between Penonomé and Aguadulce on the Interamericana Highway is the small town of Natá de los Caballeros. Natá is home to only a few thousand residents. But it is also home to the oldest church still in use in all of the Americas. La Basilica Menor Santiago Apostal de Natá was founded in 1522. This makes it two years older than the Church of San Pedro on Isla Taboga, which is also still in use.
You may need to ask for directions once you arrive in Natá. The church is located several blocks off of the Interamericana in a residential neighborhood. Surrounding the church is a nice small park. The main building has been restored over the centuries, but much of the original construction can still be seen. Inside you will find many intricately carved alters. You will see wooden faces all around, and fruits and flowers carved into ornate columns. There’s even what appears to be a feathered serpent, something I thought was a crocodile at first until I looked closer. This is definitely one of those places where you could spend all day exploring.
For more information about this historic gem, please visit: Natá.