Panama: Nata – Iglesia de Santiago Apostol
The sleepy town of Nata has the oldest church in Panama and the entire Terra Ferme (what the Spanish used to call their colonial possessions in Central America south of Mexico). The Iglesia de Santiago Apostol was built in 1522 and is meticulously restored to an absolutely perfect condition. Beautiful whitewashed exterior is almost sparkling white, while the interior has all the original wooden columns and ceiling (the wood came from a tropical tree called nispero from northern Panama back in 16th century). In the 17th century, the town was controlled by local Indians who adopted Christianity and lavished the church in gold and silver, that the Spanish eventually stole, and killed and enslaved all the Indians. The church is utterly stunning and beautiful, and there is also a large park in front of it.