Dating back to 1680, La Iglesia de la Merced sits in the heart of Casco Viejo, just a couple of blocks from Independence Square. Its weathered stone facade is made of stones recovered from the abandoned original old city of Panama, Panama Viejo, and is flanked by two gleaming white stucco bell towers, with bells chiming every 15 minutes.
The decorations inside are relatively restrained, with an exposed wooden ceiling and a tastefully tiled floor. In alcoves around the edge are a number of statues dedicated to saints and religious figures, some more tastefully crafted than others but all of them well maintained.
Particularly striking is a statue of María de Cervelló (also known as María del Socorro or Mary or Cervellione) holding a ship in her hand. She was a 13th-century saint who was reputed to, after she had died, sail on the wings of the wind to rescue ships who were at risk of shipwreck.