3. Church and Convent of Mercy

3. La Merced Convent Complex

Conjunto Conventual de La MercedThe Mercedarian friars arrived on the Isthmus in 1522 and obtained a spacious lot at the Western end of the city.  One century later they built a grand church, which was not affected by the fire in 1671.  The Merced church included four confraternities, and each one would have probably had its own altarpiece: Our Lady of Solitude, Our Lady of Candelaria, Our Lady of Saint Katherine, and Our Lady of the Holy Waters.

It seems that the Merced Church was the least affected during Morgan’s attack.  Some historians explain that this is due to the fact that it was on the outskirts of the city; however others believe the pirates used it as a stronghold.  After the city was destroyed, the building was used as a quarry to build the new church.  When the city was transferred to its new location, which coincides with the current Old Quarter, the front of the church was dismounted and rebuilt at the new temple, where it still stands; the rest of its walls were used to build the city walls.

Today the convent has approximately 1,500 m2.  In the XX century the remains of the church were damaged during the construction of the former Cincuentenario Avenue, whose route divided the monument complex and the church exactly in half.  Although today the project of relocating Cincuentenario Avenue has allowed for a better interpretation of the church, it also implied a serious impact, given that some of its walls, floors and even a buttress were removed from the site.