La Merced Museum, a Spectacular Museum in Casco Viejo

La Merced Museum

While doing the tour of the 7 Churches in Holy Week, I noticed that there was a new museum in the Casco Antiguo, it is inside La Merced Church (Our Lady of Mercy), La Merced Museum.

The La Merced Museum is beautiful, simple and contemporary, and it is also suitable for people with reduced mobility.

It has history of Panama and religious things. Has 2 levels and a large well.

Once in the Church, you can enter it through the stairs and once inside the church, take a left and then a right to go out to the terrace.

You can also enter through the door on the right-hand side of the Church, and thus avoid the stairs, once inside, take the left and right to go to the Terrace.

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well at La Merced Museum
Well over 200 years old.

At the entrance of La Merced Museum- Terrace

The first thing we can see is one of the Nispero columns that supported the temple and followed a large well with more than 200 years, with an audio guide in English and Spanish, you have to come closer to listen, but be careful that you may drop something.

Although there are people who throw coins at it (before they threw stones at it to ask for favors), it is not actually a wishing well, but it was an underground water reserve, by the time it was common, but now it is the only one in the Casco Antiguo, above it has an iron lid with the shield of the Order Our Lady of Mercy.

Then you can see bells used in the Churches La Merced and San Francisco de Asís, they can be played, but with care.


They have information about them and some of the history of the bells, did you know that in ancient Rome they announced bath time?

Entrance to the closed part of La Orden de La Merced Museum
Entrance to the closed part of La Orden de La Merced Museum.

A little further on is the entrance to the closed area, but before we see a path of candles.

On the first floor

You can know a little more about the businessman Federico José Humbert, although there is half a room dedicated to him, the person who made the donation for the La Merced Museum.

In the next room, we can see some faucets in the shape of faces, water comes out of their mouths, they work.

There are also some religious articles used at masses, such as ciborium and clothing, the place has an atmosphere similar to a sacristy (where priests dress).

Sink with face-shaped faucet
Sink with face-shaped faucet.

On the second floor

From there go to the next level, you can go by elevator or go out and use the stairs, leaving the first option for babies in cars and people with reduced mobility.

Above is large, an image of the Our Lady of Mercy welcomes us, from there we can know a little about the Order of our  Lady of  Mercy it was born in Barcelona, ​​Spain in 1218, whose purpose is to fight for the freedom of people .

In the center of the room we can see the hologram that is projected inside a bronze chalice from the 18th century, where the blood of Christ falls, the oldest in the collection of this temple, on the walls there are paintings and sculptures of representations of the Order of the Our Lady of Mercy.

You can also see a video with an explanation of how and where La Merced Church was in Panama Viejo, something about its transfer to the new city.

Upper level of La Merced Museum
Upper level of La Merced Museum.

At La Merced Museum, you can see a stone that has the mercenaries’ shield carved that was placed in the Church in Panama Viejo, it was found in La Merced Church in the Casco Antiguo.

Stone with a carved shield at La Merced Museum
Stone with a carved shield of the Order Our Lady of Mercy, it belonged to the Panama Viejo Church.

There are also several interactive things such as a lectern with a digital book, which has an acrylic in the shape of a book and when the images are turned as if it were a tablet and thus the pages are turned one by one, they are of a handwritten sacramental book.

Digital book
Digital book, although it seems real, is actually an acrylic in the shape of a book, where the image of a book is reflected.

In another room, we can see several old books of Panama such as

  • Narratives of the Invasion,
  • the 1929 edition of the first constitution of Panama (1904),
  • the battle of the Calidonia Bridge,
  • Death Certificates of 1786,
  • the Act of Consecration of the Cathedral of Panama of 1796,
  • among others.

All those inside a stained-glass window with some open pages.

Act of Consecration of the Cathedral of Panama
Act of Consecration of the Cathedral of Panama.

In the same room of the books you can see a large Nativity.

Birth of La Merced Museum
Birth of La Merced Museum.

Other things that can be seen

  • Images of Santa María La Antigua,
  • illustrations of the pirate attack,
  • videos,
  • original crown of canvas of the virgin (yes, apparently, it was placed on top of the painting in the 18th century),
  • lecterns,
  • pendulum clocks,
  • silver vases,
  • a world map from 1587,
  • the miter of the mercenary Bishop José Higinio Durán y Martel (who signed the Act of Independence of Panama from Spain),
  • baptism font,
  • an interactive screen with information,
  • among others.
World map of 1587
World map of 1587.

Fun facts

  • Before, Panama was known as Castilla de Oro and its capital was Santa María La Antigua del Darién.
  • Santa María La Antigua del Darién was the seat of the first Diocese on the mainland in America.
  • La Merced Church in Panama Viejo was used as a barracks by pirates, for a month while they sacked the city, they even improvised a jail for their prisoners.
  • The windows of the Temple are tall, to be used in the event of a pirate attack.
  • According to a video, the stones were transferred by sea from Panama Viejo to Casco Antiguo, which may be, since there were no horses in America.
  • In 1861, the religious orders were expelled from the Isthmus, by a decree in which the property was expropriated, the temple was sold. In 1875, the cathedral was designated as a tabernacle. In 1980, the mercenaries returned to Panama and in 1983 they returned to their old temple.
  • La Merced Church was declared a National Historic Monument in 1956.
  • 1963 the temple loses original architectural values ​​in a fire, you can see a photo of before and after the fire.
  • Father Bernardino Gómez removed the Holy Eucharist from the High Altar during the fire, you can see a photo of the moment.
the Fire of La Merced Church
Father Bernardino Gómez removes the Eucharist from the Church during the Fire.

The things I liked the most

They were the interactive parts, especially the lectern and the museum structure, as they are original stone walls.

Advices

  • Clothing: to go to the Museum you have to enter the Church, therefore, wear appropriate clothing, long pants, a shirt or t-shirt with sleeves, no low-cut, no flip-flops, you can wear a dress.
  • Avoid touching stained glass and antique objects.

Note: the information is in English and Spanish, although there are some things to signpost.

Hours

  • Tuesday to Saturday,
  • From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Price

  • Free.

Booking

To book the visit, write to: museomercedpanama@gmail.com

Silver flower offered by Pope Francis to Our Lady of Mercy at the Child Compliance Center.
Silver flower offered by Pope Francis to Our Lady of Mercy at the Child Compliance Center.

How to get to Orden de La Merced Museum?

By car: go to the Casco Antiguo, if you do not know Casco Antiguo, it is better to use an App like Google Maps, because there are several streets that can be taken and others that can be lost.

After parking, go to the Central Ave with the Street 9. La Merced Church is 1 block from Herrera Square and 2 blocks from the Cathedral.

By bus: take a bus until 5 de Mayo (almost everyone goes there), if not, you can take one to the Albrook Bus Terminal and then another until 5 de Mayo.

Go to Central de Calidonia and walk through same, until seeing the La Merced Church in Casco Antiguo.

Also at the Marañon Gym stop, near the 5 de Mayo pay zone, you can take a bus heading to the Marañon Gym route and get off at Santa Anta Park (end of La Central de Calidonia).

Continue walking with direction to Casco Antiguo, following the same line as La Central de Calidonia street.

Updated: 2021.

Other places you may like

Original stone walls
Original stone walls.



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