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Panama City

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Panamá
Clockwise, from top: Panama Canal, Skyline, Bridge of the Americas, The bovedas, Casco Viejo of Panama and Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama.
Clockwise, from top: Panama Canal, Skyline, Bridge of the Americas, The bovedas, Casco Viejo of Panama and Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama.
Flag of Panama
Coat of arms of Panama
Coat of arms
Panama is located in Panama
District Panamá
Foundation August 15, 1519
Founded by Pedro Arias de Ávila
 • Mayor José Isabel Blandón Figueroa
 • City 275 km2 (106 sq mi)
 • Metro 2,560.8 km2 (988.7 sq mi)
Elevation 2 m (7 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City 880,691
 • Density 2,750/km2 (7,656/sq mi)
 • Metro 1,501,381
Area code(s) (+507) 2
HDI (2007) 0.780 – high[1]
Astronaut's photo of Panama City.

Panama City (Spanish: ciudad de Panamá) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama.[2][3] It has a population of 880,691, with a total metro population of 1,440,381,[4] and is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, in the province of Panama. The city is the political and administrative center of the country, as well as a hub for international banking and commerce.[5] It is considered a "beta-" world city, one of three Central American cities listed in this category.[6]

The city of Panama has an average GDP per capita of $15,300.[7] It has a dense skyline of mostly high-rise buildings, and it is surrounded by a large belt of tropical rainforest. Panama's Tocumen International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Central America, offers daily flights to major international destinations. Panama was chosen as the 2003 American Capital of Culture jointly with Curitiba, Brazil. It is among the top five places for retirement in the world, according to International Living magazine.

The city of Panama was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dávila. The city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru. It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent, leading to the fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, through which passed most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas.

On January 28, 1671, the city was destroyed by a fire when pirate Panama Viejo.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Cityscape 3
    • Architecture 3.1
    • Neighborhoods 3.2
  • Economy 4
  • Demographics 5
  • Culture 6
    • World Heritage Sites 6.1
      • Panamá La Vieja 6.1.1
      • Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo 6.1.2
    • Literature 6.2
    • Art 6.3
    • Tourism 6.4
    • Sports 6.5
  • Education 7
  • Healthcare 8
  • Transportation 9
  • Twin towns – Sister cities 10
  • Gallery 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
    • Footnotes 13.1
    • Bibliography 13.2
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15


The city was founded on August 15, 1519, by Pedro Arias de Ávila, also known as Pedrarias Dávila. Within a few years of its founding, the city became a launching point for the exploration and conquest of Peru and a transit point for gold and silver headed back to Spain through the Isthmus. In 1671 Henry Morgan with a band of 1400 men attacked and looted the city, which was subsequently destroyed by fire. The ruins of the old city still remain and are a popular tourist attraction known as Panamá la Vieja (Old Panama). It was rebuilt in 1673 in a new location approximately 5 miles (8 km) southwest of the original city. This location is now known as the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) of the city.

One year before the start of the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not begin operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction. That traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during that period.

The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the infrastructure and economy. Of particular note are the improvements in health and sanitation brought about by the American presence in the Canal Zone. These include the eradication of yellow fever and malaria and the introduction of a first-rate water supply system. However, most of the laborers for the construction of the canal were brought in from the Caribbean, which created unprecedented racial and social tensions in the city.

During World War II, construction of military bases and the presence of larger numbers of U.S. military and civilian personnel brought about unprecedented levels of prosperity to the city. Panamanians had limited access, or no access at all, to many areas in the Canal Zone neighboring the Panama city metropolitan area. Some of these areas were military bases accessible only to United States personnel. Some tensions arose between the people of Panama and the U.S. citizens living in the Panama Canal Zone. This erupted in the January 9, 1964 events, known as Martyrs' Day.

In the late 1970s through the 1980s the city of Panama became an international banking center, bringing a lot of undesirable attention as an international money-laundering center. In 1989 after nearly a year of tension between the United States and Panama, President Manuel Noriega. As a result of the action a portion of the El Chorrillo neighborhood, which consisted mostly of old wood-framed buildings dating back to the 1900s (though still a large slum area), was destroyed by fire. Eventually, the U.S. helped finance the construction of large cinder block apartment buildings to replace the destroyed structures. The city of Panama remains a banking center, although with very visible controls in the flow of cash. Shipping is handled through port facilities in the area of Balboa operated by the Hutchison Whampoa Company of Hong Kong and through several ports on the Caribbean side of the isthmus. Balboa, which is located within the greater Panama metropolitan area, was formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone, and in fact the administration of the former Panama Canal Zone was headquartered there.


Panamá is located between the Pacific Ocean and tropical rain forest in the northern part of Panama. The Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Nature Park), stretching from Panama City along the Panama Canal, has unique bird species and other animals, such as tapir, puma, and caimans. At the Pacific entrance of the canal is the Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas (Marine Exhibitions Center), a research center for those interested in tropical marine life and ecology, managed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal, providing it with the water required for its operation; the canal is thus a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of a forest that helped to preserve that forest. Due to the canal's importance to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state. Along the western side of the canal is the Parque Nacional Soberanía (Sovereignty National Park), which includes the Summit botanical gardens and a zoo. The best known trail in this national park is Pipeline Road, popular among birdwatchers.[8]

Nearly 500 rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. Most are unnavigable; many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas. However, the Río Chepo and the Río Chagres, both within the boundaries of the city, work as sources of hydroelectric power.

The Río Chagres is one of the longest and most vital of the approximately 150 rivers that flow into the Caribbean. Part of this river was dammed to create Gatun Lake, which forms a major part of the transit route between the locks near each end of the canal. Both Gatun Lake and Madden Lake (also filled with water from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity to the former Canal Zone area. The Río Chepo, another major source of hydroelectric power, is one of the more than 300 rivers emptying into the Pacific.


Under the Köppen climate classification, Panama has a tropical wet and dry climate. It sees 1,900 mm (74.8 in) of precipitation annually. The wet season spans from May through December, and the dry season spans from January through April. Temperatures remain constant throughout the year, averaging around 27 °C (81 °F). Sunshine hours are somewhat low as Panama lies in the Intertropical Convergence Zone zone where there is near constant formation of clouds especially during the wet season.

Climate data for Panama City (1971–2000)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 33.4
Average low °C (°F) 18.5
Rainfall mm (inches) 29.3
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 2.9 1.3 1.4 4.9 15.0 16.0 14.0 15.0 17.0 20.0 16.0 7.5 131.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 228.9 245.2 183.9 173.1 108.5 116.3 106.1 118.1 99.2 103.9 139.8 120.5 1,743.5
Source #1: [9]
Source #2: ETESA (sunshine data recorded at Albrook Field)[10]


Casco Viejo seen from Cerro Ancón.


Panama's old quarter (or Casco Viejo, Panama) features many architectural styles, from Spanish colonial buildings to French and Antillean townhouses built during the construction of the Panama Canal.[11] The more modern areas of the city have many high-rise buildings, which together form a very dense skyline. There are more than 110 high-rise projects under construction, with 127 already built.[12] The city holds the 45th place in the world by high-rise buildings count.[13]

The Centennial Bridge that crosses the Panama Canal earned the American Segmental Bridge Institute prize of excellence, along with seven other bridges in the Americas.[14]


Architecture in the Old Quarter

The city is located in Panama District, although its metropolitan area also includes some populated areas on the opposite side of the Panama Canal. As in the rest of the country, the city is divided into corregimientos, in which there are many smaller boroughs. The old quarter, known as the Casco Viejo, is located in the corregimiento of San Felipe. San Felipe and twelve other corregimientos form the urban center of the city, including Santa Ana, El Chorrillo, Calidonia, Curundú, Ancón, Bella Vista, Bethania, San Francisco, Juan Diaz, Pueblo Nuevo, Parque Lefevre, and Río Abajo.

The skyline of Panama City from Ancon Hill.
Punta Paitilla view from Cinta Costera/Coastal Belt (2012).


Construction boom in Panama City.

As the economic and financial center of the country, Panama City's economy is service-based, heavily weighted toward banking, commerce, and tourism.[15] The economy depends significantly on trade and shipping activities associated with the Panama Canal and port facilities located in Balboa. The city has benefited from significant economic growth in recent years, mainly due to the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal, an increase in real estate investment, and a relatively stable banking sector.[16] There are around eighty banks in the city, at least fifteen of which are national.

Panama City is responsible for the production of approximately 55% of the country's GDP. This is because most Panamanian businesses and premises are located in the city and its metro area.[17] It is a stopover for other destinations in the country, as well as a transit point and tourist destination in itself.

Tourism is one of the most important economic activities in terms of revenue generation. The city's hotel occupancy rate has always been relatively high, reaching the second highest for any city outside the United States in 2008, after Trump Ocean Club, its first investment in Latin America,[21] and Hilton Worldwide recently opened its first Garden Inn Panama, at Eusebio A. Morales Avenue and 49A Street West, and more recently The Panamera, the second Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Latin America.[22]


The city proper has around 880,691 inhabitants in 23 boroughs.[23] The inhabitants of Panama City are commonly referred to as capitalinos and include large numbers of Afro-Panamanians, mestizos, and mulattos, with notable white and Asian minorities.[24]


World Heritage Sites

Panamá La Vieja

Panamá Viejo ("Old Panama")[25] is the name used for the architectural vestiges of the Monumental Historic Complex of the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific coast of the Americas by Pedro Arias de Avila on August 15, 1519. This city was the starting point for the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru in 1532. It was a stopover point on one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent, leading to the famous fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo, where most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas passed through.[26]

The committee decided to inscribe this property on the basis of cultural criteria (ii), (iv), and (vi), considering that Panama was the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas, in 1519, and that the Historic District preserves intact a street pattern along with a substantial number of early domestic buildings, which are testimony to the nature of this early settlement.[26]

Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo

Built and settled in 1671 after the destruction of Panama Viejo by the

  • Official website for Panama City
  • Official website for Panama's Tourism Bureau

External links

  • David F. Marley (2005), "Panama City", Historic Cities of the Americas 2, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, p. 347+,  

Further reading

  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1-56328-155-4. OCLC 42970390.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.


  1. ^ "Informe de Desarrollo Humano en Panamá" (in Spanish). 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Real Academia de la Lengua Española (October 2005). "Diccionario panhispánico de dudas. Apéndice 5: Lista de países y capitales, con sus gentilicios." (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Real Academia Española y Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, «Lista de países y capitales, con sus gentilicios», Ortografía de la lengua española, Madrid, Espasa Panamá.1 País de América., p. 726, ISBN , GENT. panameño -ña. CAP. Panamá.
    Panamá.2 Capital de Panamá.
  4. ^ "Censos Nacionales 2010" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  5. ^ "Investing in Panama". Retrieved 2010-12-16. 
  6. ^ The World According to GaWC 2008 – Retrieved on 2010-10-10
  7. ^ "Panama GDP - per capita (PPP) - Economy". 2010-02-19. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  8. ^ "Canopy Tower, a famous birdwatchers hotel". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  9. ^ "World Weather Information Service - Panama City". World Meteorological Organization. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Datos Históricos : Estación Albrook Field" (in Spanish). Empresa de Transmision Electrica S.A. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  11. ^ "In Panama City's Old Quarter, a Rebirth Takes Place". Boston Globe. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  12. ^ "Skyscraper page Panama City". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  13. ^ "Skyscraper page Cities List". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  14. ^ "La Prensa Newspaper". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  15. ^ "Panama Useful Facts". Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  16. ^ "Panama economy grew 2.4 percent in 2009". Reuters. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  17. ^ "Municipio de Panamá". Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  18. ^ "Panama City Has The Second Highest Hotel Occupancy Outside Of The United States". 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  19. ^ "Hotel occupancy rates see sharp drop.". 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  20. ^ "Twenty-two Hotels are Under Construction in Panama.". Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  21. ^ "Donald J. Trump Launches His First Luxury Development in Panama". 2006-04-26. Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  22. ^ "Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts Expands into Latin America with opening of Waldorf Astoria Panama". 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  23. ^ "Panama City Hall" (Spanish)
  24. ^ "Panama". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  25. ^ "Panama Viejo". Patronato Panama Viejo. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b "UNESCO Official Site". 1997-12-07. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  27. ^ "Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  28. ^ "Panama Casco Viejo Blog – Panama News: World Bank invests in Cultural Industries for Casco Antiguo". 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2010-06-26. 
  29. ^ a b "Darién mira la discusión en San Petersburgo so you don't have to". Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  30. ^ González Jiménez, Roberto. "Odebrecht gana licitación para tercera fase de cinta costera". Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  31. ^ "Say NO to a road around Casco Viejo". Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "Gobierno debe presentar estudios de opción más viable para cinta costera 3". Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  33. ^ Panamanian literature
  34. ^ Panama:Bridge of Life|Biodiversity Museum
  35. ^ "Channing Slate's Homepage". 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  36. ^ "FSU-Panama Homepage". Retrieved 2011-02-17. 
  37. ^ "Panama City Hall information on education and accessdate=2011-04-23". 
  38. ^ "El Metro de Panamá". Secretaría del Metro. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Metrobus Panama". Metrobus Panama. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  40. ^ a b c d List of sister cities in Panama from Sister Cities International
  41. ^ a b c "Panama - Fort Lauderdale and Miami on Sister". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  42. ^ "Sister Cities, Public Relations". Guadalajara municipal government. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Incheon Sister Cities". Incheon Metropolitan City. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  44. ^ Sister city list (.DOC)
  45. ^ "Taipei City Council". Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  46. ^ "Panama City and Tel Aviv Sign Agreement to Become Sister Cities". Caribbean Journal. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 



See also


[41][40] with:twinned Panama City is

Twin towns – Sister cities

Although Panama City is modernizing its public transportation system, it is still possible to see a form of public transportation consisting of colorfully painted buses, colloquially known as diablos rojos. A diablo rojo is usually painted with bright colors, usually depicting famous actors, politicians, or singers. It is popular for bus drivers to customize the interior and exterior of their diablo rojo.

Panama City offers transportation services through yellow taxis. Taxis do not use a meter to measure fares, instead using a zone system for fares that is published by the Autoridad de Transito y Transporte Terrestre, Panama's transit authority. Major vehicle rental companies are located at the airports.

The bus terminal located in Ancon offers buses in and out of the city. Bus service is one of the most widely used forms of transportation in Panama. The terminal receives thousands of passengers daily from locations like David, Chiriqui, and the central provinces of Herrera and Los Santos. The terminal also receives international passengers from Central America via the Pan-American Highway.

There are frequent traffic jams in Panama City due to the high levels of private transport ownership per mile of traffic lane. In an attempt to curb traffic jams, President Ricardo Martinelli has brought forward a citywide metro system, initially 14 km (9 mi) long, stretching across the city.[38] This new metro system, along with the Metrobus,[39] will replace the current public transportation system.

Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport, has two runways and is located on the eastern outskirts of the city's metropolitan area. There are direct flights between Tocumen and the United States, some European cities, and all major cities in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, and Lima. Panama City has a regional airport, Marcos A. Gelabert, located in an area once occupied by Albrook Air Force Base. Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for regional flights within Panama and the Pearl Islands in the Pacific and Bocas del Toro islands in the Caribbean.


About 45% of the country's physicians are located in Panama City.[37]

Panama City is home to at least 14 hospitals and an extensive network of public and private clinics, including the Hospital Santo Tomás, Hospital del Niño, Complejo Hospitalario Arnulfo Arias Madrid, Centro Médico Paitilla, Hospital Nacional, Clinica Hospital San Fernando, and Hospital Punta Pacifica.


The city has both public and private schools. Most of the private schools are at least bilingual. Higher education is headed by the two major public universities: the University of Panama and the Technological University of Panama. There are private universities, such as the Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua, the Universidad Latina de Panama, the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (ULACIT), the Universidad Interamericana de Panama, the Distance and Open University of Panama (UNADP), Universidad del Istmo Panama, the Universidad Maritima Internacional de Panama, and the Universidad Especializada de las Americas. Also, there are Panama Branches of the Nova Southeastern University (its main campus is in Ft. Lauderdale in Broward County, Florida; the University of Oklahoma; the Central Texas University; the University of Louisville which runs a sister campus in the city,[35] and the Florida State University, which operates a broad curriculum program[36] in an academic and technological park known as Ciudad del Saber.


There are two main stadiums in Panama City, the National Stadium (also known as Rod Carew Stadium) and the Rommel Fernández Stadium, with capacities of 27,000 and 32,000 respectively. Additionally, the Roberto Durán gymnasium has a capacity of 18,000.

The city has four professional teams in the country's second level league, Liga Nacional de Ascenso:

Throughout the 20th century, Panama City has excelled in boxing, baseball, basketball, and soccer. These sports have produced famous athletes such as Roberto Durán, Rommel Fernández, Rolando Blackman, Mariano Rivera, and Rod Carew. Today, these sports have clubs and associations that manage their development in the city. Panama Metro is the city's baseball team. There are boxing training centers in different gyms throughout the city's neighborhoods. There are also many football clubs, such as:

The Plaza Amador crest.


The area immediately east of the Pacific entrance of the canal, known as the Amador Causeway, is being developed as a tourist center and nightlife destination. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a station and a small museum open to the public at Culebra Point on the island of Naos. A new museum, the Biomuseo was recently completed on the causeway in 2014. It was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry, famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.[34] Just outside the city limits is the Parque Municipal Summit.

  • Las Bóvedas ("The Vaults"), a waterfront promenade jutting out into the Pacific;
  • The National Institute of Culture Building and the French embassy across from it;
  • The Cathedral at Plaza de la Catedral;
  • Teatro Nacional, an intimate performance center with outstanding natural acoustics and seating for about 800 guests;
  • Museo del Canal Interoceánico (Interoceanic Canal Museum); and
  • Palacio de las Garzas (Heron's Palace), the official name of the presidential palace, named for the numerous herons that inhabit the building.

The city has numerous tourist attractions. Particularly interesting for tourists are sites located in the old quarter, including:


One of the most important Panamanian artists is Alfredo Sinclair. He has worked for over 50 years in abstract art and has produced one of the most important artistic collections in the country. His daughter, Olga Sinclair, has also followed in his footsteps and has become another force in Panamanian art. Another very prominent Panamanian artist is Guillermo Trujillo, known world wide for his abstract surrealism. Brooke Alfaro is another Panamanian artist known throughout the world for his uniquely rendered oil paintings.


According to Professor Rodrigo Miró, the first story about Panama was written by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés and published as part of the Historia General y Natural de Las Indias in 1535. Some poets and novelists born in Panamá city are Manuel María Ayala (1785–1824), Amelia Denis de Icaza (1836–1911), Darío Herrera (1870–1914), Ricardo Miró (1883–1940), Gaspar Octavio Hernández (1893–1918), Demetrio Korsi (1899–1957), Ricardo Bermúdez (1914–2000), Joaquín Beleño (1922–88), Ernesto Endara (1932–), Diana Morán (1932–87), José Córdova (1937–), Pedro Rivera (1939–), Moravia Ochoa López (1941–), Roberto Fernández Iglesias (1941–), Jarl Ricardo Babot (1946–), Giovanna Benedetti (1949–), Manuel Orestes Nieto (1951–), Moisés Pascual (1955–), Héctor Miguel Collado (1960–), David Robinson Orobio (1960–), Katia Chiari (1969–), Carlos Oriel Wynter Melo (1971–), José Luis Rodríguez Pittí (1971–), and Sofía Santim (1982–).[33]


Undergoing redevelopment, the old quarter has become one of the city's main tourist attractions, second only to the Panama Canal. Both government and private sectors are working on its restoration.[28] However, a construction project proposed by President Ricardo Martinelli has recently proven controversial. Named "Cinta Costera 3", this project includes the construction of a maritime highway viaduct around the Casco Antiguo.[29] Proponents claim the road will ease traffic congestion in the city while "[causing] a positive dialog between [the] highly contrasting areas of the city."[29] Opponents of the $776.9-million[30] project say the road will ruin the view of the horizon from the Casco Antiguo and that there are alternatives to the viaduct (such as a tunnel) that could protect the "integrity" of the place.[31] Much of the controversy surrounding the project involves the possibility that Casco Viejo will lose its World Heritage status. On June 28, 2012, UNESCO decided that Casco Viejo will not be put on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, while affirming the importance that further studies be conducted to demonstrate the project will not be culturally detrimental to Casco Viejo and that the viaduct is the "most viable option".[32]

The Future of Casco Viejo

Casco Antiguo displays a mix of architectural styles that reflect the country's cultural diversity: Caribbean, Republican, art deco, French, and colonial architecture mix in a site comprising around 800 buildings. Most of Panama City's main monuments are located in Casco Antiguo, including the Salón Bolivar, the National Theater (founded in 1908), Las Bóvedas, and Plaza de Francia. There are also many Catholic buildings, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the La Merced Church, and the St. Philip Neri Church. The distinctive golden altar at St. Joseph Church was one of the few items saved from Panama Viejo during the 1671 pirate siege. It was buried in mud during the siege and then secretly transported to its present location.


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