Students sometimes ask about places to visit. The Bahai’i Temple combines a unique building with photo-op scenery and, if you wish, the opportunity, only if you are interested, to learn about this faith. Many locals don’t know the temple exists and even some tour guides will have to search their location apps.
When you see the dome from afar, it looks like a gigantic white egg sitting on a mountain, Cerro Sonsonate. It is visible from the roads below. I have seen it from the air occasionally when flying into Tocumen airport. The mountain is located about 10km northeast of Panama City.
The narrow entrance is not easy to find the first time. It is located in a gap between stores. A tall information sign stands beside two ornate black gates. You drive up the mountain on a one-lane paved road, watching for oncoming traffic. The road gets narrower the higher you go, on the tightest curves there are mirrors so you can see if another vehicle is coming towards you.
After the final curve buildings appear on your left. These house a meeting room, the rest rooms and an area for the staff. The Temple is straight ahead. You will be met by staff who will answer questions, give needed assistance and take you on a guided tour if you desire.
Nine narrow triangles support the dome, their pointy ends sticking out from the base in a star-like pattern. Every breeze is funneled through the sanctuary. You feel cool no matter how hot the sun outside.
Under the dome are mahogany benches, seating for over 500 people. The roof arches high over head to a central medallion. The arched openings between the star-points are filled with a grill made from bars bent in a wave-like pattern. Small birds fly freely through the space and perch on the edge of a balcony that surrounds the interior.
The grounds are lovely and you have views of the surrounding areas. Bring water when you come. The only things for sale here are religious materials. You can learn about the religion if you are curious by asking the guides but they will not push you.
It is worth a visit to experience this unusual building that uses breezes instead of air conditioning. A wonderful place in which to chill out and recharge your batteries before returning to the chaos and noise of the city.