Baha'i Temple – Panama City, Panama - Atlas Obscura

Baha'i Temple

From a distance, Latin America's first Baha'i Temple looks like an enormous egg perched atop a hill. 


This Baha’i Temple provides a serene contrast to the cacophony of Panama City. Its unusual architectural style is difficult to miss. From the valley, it looks like a giant white egg perched atop a hill.

This building was the first Baha’i Temple in Latin America. It was inaugurated in 1972 to serve Panama residents of the Bahá’í Faith, a religion that encourages universal peace and unity.

Of the locals who know of the temple, it seems that few have visited. Even some tour guides cannot find it. A winding mile-long driveway leads from the busy Transistmica Highway up to the temple.

Once there, you’ll enter the building through one of the 3-D, wave-shaped gates. Overhead, the dome arches like a huge umbrella, shading you from the hot sun. Inside, while sitting on a wooden bench, the noise and chaos of the city seem far away. Distant traffic noise becomes a faint background to the cheerful chirping of small birds who fly freely through the building.

A balcony circles the spacious sanctuary. Fin-like structures radiate outwards like nine star points, their broad ends supporting both the balcony and dome overhead. This design guides the breeze through the building, acting as a natural air-conditioning. The city, at sea level, is hot and humid. But up here, the temperature is comfortable.

There is an organic feeling to the design, which uses so many curved lines. Most churches in the city are rectangular, their decorations beautiful but ornate. This one takes a more modest approach.

A path circles the building, and there is a small garden suitable for a walking meditation if you are so inclined. Time spent here can be refreshing. You’ll get a different view of Panama City, the coastal developments, and the surrounding areas. You’ll be able to return to the city rejuvenated, ready to enjoy the experiences it has to offer.

Know Before You Go

The temple rarely has many visitors, although it is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Children may find it dull as they must stay under your control. There are no play areas. Beyond the paths, the lawn ends suddenly in steep slopes.

You may sit, pray, or meditate as you wish or just walk around. Only if you show interest will an attendant discuss the Baha'i religion.

Bring sun protection, such as a hat and sunscreen. Also bring water. Restrooms are located in the buildings across the parking lot.

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