Christmas in Panama 2019

The Alcaldía de Panamá, or Panama City’s Mayor’s office, has organized the following activites in celebration of Christmas.

  • December 1st – Encendido Del Alumbrado (Lighting of the Chrismtas Lights) – Cinta Costera
  • December 7th – Posada Navideña (Traditional Latin American celebration observing the birth of Jesus Christ) – Parque Urracá
  • December 15th – Desfile De Navidad – Christmas Parade – Cinta Costera
  • December 21st – Los Niños Pintan La Navidad – Kids Paint Christmas – Cinta Costera

Amador Cruise Terminal in Panama City, Panama

The Amador Cruise Terminal, located on Perico Island of the Amador Causeway in Panama City, Panama, is the first cruise terminal located on Panama’s Pacific coast. Panama has another cruise terminal on Panama’s Caribbean coast in the city of Colon here.

Panama’s Amador Cruise Terminal, a 165 million dollar project, was built by the Panamanian government, led and supervised by Panama’s Maritime Authority (AMP).

Amador Cruise Terminal Panama City Panama

Panama’s Maritime Authority announced its intention to develop the cruise terminal in late 2016. The Amador Cruise Terminal’s primary purpose is to become a home port for cruises that travel north and south along the Pacific, allowing thousands of travelers to pass through Panama en route to national and international destinations. Being a home port will promote Panama’s tourism sector and create direct and indirect employment opportunities, as well as contributing to the sustainable development of Panama.

According to data from the Panama Maritime Authority, the Norwegian Star cruise ship, belonging to the Norwegian Cruise Line, has already made the first home port reservation for October 2020

The cruise ship Island Princess, carrying over 2,000 passengers, docked at the Amador Cruise Terminal on October 2nd of this year, marking the beginning of the season.

Island Princess Cruise Ship Amador Causeway Panama

During the 8 hours that the cruise ships are docked at the Amador Cruise Terminal, over 60% of passengers take tours of the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo, Panama Viejo and the city center, while others visit the indigenous communities of lakes Gatun and Bayno.

Construction of the Amador Cruise Terminal

The Amador Cruise Terminal project was awarded in June 2017 to the Pacific Cruises Consortium, formed by Jan De Nul (JDN) and the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC). Both companies have developed marine infrastructure and engineering projects worldwide.

You can see a video of work that was done below.

CHEC is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, the largest contractor in Asia and the third largest in the world. CHEC won the bid shortly after Panama established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, and thereby severed ties with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China refuses to recognize any nation that formally recognizes Taiwan, a core part of its One-China policy.

Previous CHEC projects in Panama include the Port of Balboa Container Terminal Phase 3, awarded in 2002, and Evergreen’s Colon Container Terminal (CCT), awarded in 2013. The diplomatic timing was auspicious for another deal, and CHEC said that the bidding for the new terminal project was highly competitive, with interest from over 40 international firms.

“The diplomatic steps we made are bringing very precise benefits to the people of Panama with projects like this, where Chinese companies are participating with efficient costs,” said Panamanian president Juan Carlos Varela.

Panama’s Amador Causeway

Panama’s Maritime Authority has ambitious plans for the Amador Causeway. The man-made breakwater, built with excavation debris from the original Panama Canal, connects four small islands called Naos, Culebra, Perico and Flamenco. The Amador Causeway, as well as the Panama Canal and all Panama Canal Zone territories, was returned to Panamanian jurisdiction in 1999, and has seen considerable development since. The causeway and its islands are now home to a marina, a convention center, a Frank Gehry-designed museum and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s aquarium. The Panamanian government recently invested $300 million in overhauling the area’s roads and infrastructure to support future development and tourism.

National Theater of Panama – 2019 Reinaguration

After four years and more than fifteen million dollars invested, the National Theater of Panama was reinaugurated on October 1st by Panama’s President, Laurentino Cortizo.

“This is an important ceremony because 111 years ago, on October 1, 1908, the theater’s doors opened for the first time. It is one of Panama’s most emblematic architectural works, built between 1905 and 1908,” Cortizo explained during the opening ceremony.

The National Theater of Panama, located in the heart of Casco Viejo next to the Church of San Francisco and the Plaza Bolivar, is a representative work of Panama’s neoclassical architecture. Prior to the theater’s construction, the site was occupied by the former convent of the Cloistered Nuns of the Embodiment until 1862, when the government of General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera made it a military barracks. The theater was designed by Italian architect Genaro Ruggieri in the Italian operetta style. Its construction was ordered by Act 52 of 1904. Check out the National Theater and more on this Casco Viejo Walking  Tour.

The theater has capacity to accommodate 853 people, distributed in amphitheater, stalls, two floors of balconies, pit for the orchestra and a gallery.

Panama’s Minister of Culture, Carlos Aguilar, said that “all renovated infrastructure belonging to Panama’s cultural and national heritage will be well maintained and protected to safeguard what gives us identity and self-esteem.” Aguilar invited citizens to visit the theater and to take advantage of the available tours to learn more about its history.

National Theater of Panama Upcoming Events

October 2019

October 17 – Traditional Folkloric Gala
October 18 – Ricardo Miró Awards
October 23 & 24 – Contemporary Dance Performance “Refistuleros”

November 2019

November 5 to 17 – Musical “1903”
November 21 – Roberto Lewis Awards
November 27 – Roque Cordero Awards
November 31 & December 1 – Performance “Panama de Mil Colores”

December 2019

December 12 – Horacio Valdés Concert
December 19 to 22 – Christmas Show
December 27 & 28 – El Quijote – Panama Ballet Festival

National Theater of Panama Renovation

The renovation, which was initially estimated to cost 11 million dollars, was divided into two areas: the restoration of Roberto Lewis‘s works, considered priceless, and the building’s structure, including the ceilings, stage and outdoor terraces.

In addition to Roberto Lewis’s work, the works of decorator Enrico Conrado and Italian architect Genaro Ruggieri were renovated as well.

Comic Con Panama 2019

Comic Con Panama 2019 is right around the corner! Comic Con Panama will place August 23 – 25 in Panama City, Panama in the Atlapa Convention Center. See map here.

Friday, August 23: 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, August 24: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 25 25: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Comic Con Panama

Comic Con, which began in 1970 in the United States, has become a unique, pop culture event celebrated around the world. 2019 marks the event’s second consecutive year in Panama City, Panama.

Comic Con Panama 2019

Comic Con Panama will feature the best of pop culture in television, cinema, video games, comics, fantasy, role-playing, cosplay and much more.

Comic Con Panama will welcome national and international guests, as well as feature a full agenda of activities, including courses, contests, tournaments and much more!

Comic Con Panama 2019 Guests

Comic Con Panama’s guest of honor is Isaac Hempstead-Wright, the actor who played Bran Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Check him out on Instagram here.

Isaac Hempstead Wright Bran Stark Comic Con Panama 2019

Other noteworthy guests include illustrator of the animated series Rick & Morty David Angelo Roman, cosplayer Lady Lemon and Panamanian film director Abner Benaim.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Collectors

Comic Con Panama’s Collectors section will feature a mega exhibition of figures, dioramas, LEGO, scale cars and much more!

Comic Con Panama 2019 Collectors

Comic Con Panama 2019 Gamer’s League

If you’re a gamer eager for an opportunity to show off your skills, check out the +Móvil Games League at Comic Con! The +Móvil Games League will host an Overwatch and a Fortnite tournament, where $12,000 in prizes are up for grabs. Learn more here.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Gamers League

Comic Con Panama 2019 Cosplay

Cosplay, a portmanteau of the words costume play, is a performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. More info here.

Comic Con Panama is the ideal opportunity for cosplayers to get decked out in their cosplay gear, and participate for prizes! Comic Con expects hundreds of cosplayers to come out and join the fun. If you’re interested in participating as a cosplayer, you can sign up here.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Cosplay

Comic Con Panama 2019 Artist Alley

Artist Alley will be a space at Comic Con Panama where amateur and professional artists can display their work, sketch and sell their work, including prints, CDs, comics and buttons. Artist Alley will feature international and national illustrators, and anyone else that wishes to share their art. If you’re interested in featuring your art at Artist Alley, you can sign up here.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Artist Alley

Comic Con Panama 2019 Gamer Zone

Comic Con Panama will feature a space dedicated to gamers, where video game aficionados can play and compete for prizes.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Gamer Zone

Comic Con Panama 2019 Shopping

Comic Con Panama will feature a space for companies from the entertainment industry to sell their goods and services. If you’re interested in selling during Comic Con, you can sign up here.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Shopping

Comic Con Panama 2019 Stage

In line with other Comic Con events around the world, Comic Con Panama will feature a stage, which will serve as the event’s nucleus. The stage will feature the event’s main activities, including guest presentations, product launches, film screenings, competitions and celebrity greetings.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Stage

Comic Con Panama 2019 Experience Zone

Comic Con Panama’s Experience Zone will feature exciting, interactive spaces where attendees can take photos, participate in events and share their passion with other guests and invited artists. 
Comic Con Panama 2019 Experience Zone

Comic Con Panama 2019 1966 Batmobile

To celebrate 80 years of Batman, the 1966 Batmobile will be on exhibit at Comic Con Panama. Attendees will have the opportunity to take photos and share their passion for Batman with others!

Comic Con Panama 2019 1966 Batmobile

Comic Con Panama 2019 Industry Zone

Comic Con Panama will feature the entertainment industry’s most important and iconic brands, including sneak peaks into future releases, as well as one-of-a-kind experiences.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Industry Zone

Comic Con Panama 2019 Panels

Comic Con Panama will feature an area focused on learning, including talks, conferences, workshops, exhibitions and more. If you’re interested in participating, you can sign up here.

Comic Con Panama 2019 Panels

Comic Con Panama 2019 Meet & Greet

Comic Con Panama’s Meet & Greet is the ideal moment to meet your favorite guests, where you can take a picture and get an autograph.

Panama says “adios” to plastic bags

Panama is the first country in Central America to ban the use of plastic bags in stores.

On June 20th, Panama joined the list of countries that are banning the use of plastic bags. The objective of the ban is to avoid polluting the environment, especially the oceans. A report by specialists from the European Commission concluded that 80% of garbage in the world’s oceans is plastic, due to its slow decomposition of polyethylene.

Plastic trash is found in the guts of more than 90% of the world’s sea birds (ref), in the stomachs of more than half of the world’s sea turtles (ref), and it’s even choking the life out of whales (ref). At the rate at which plastic is accumulating in the oceans of the planet, it’s predicted that, by 2050, the mass of plastic in the world’s oceans will exceed the mass of all the fish that live there (ref).


Panama bans the use of plastic bags in stores

Sea turtle with a half-eaten plastic bag in its mouth. (Credit: Yamamoto Biology / Creative Commons.)


Ban on Plastic Bags in Panama

The Law No. 1 of 2018 went into effect on Saturday, July 20th and applies to supermarkets, mini supermarkets, grocery stores and retail stores. This regulation will be extended to department stores and wholesalers in January 2020.

Panama is the first country in Central America to ban plastic bags. Environmental groups said they will present more bills to protect the environment. For example, Canada will soon ban the use of plastic cutlery and stirring sticks.

Officials  from Panama’s Authority of Consumer Protection and Competition Defense (ACODECO) have been and will continue to be available to educate consumers and merchants on the use of reusable bags. On Saturday, June 20th, ACODECO officials visited a total of 2,153 stores across Panama.

Museo de la Libertad y los Derechos Humanos, Panama

El Museo de la Libertad y los Derechos Humanos, or the Museum of Freedom and Human Rights in English, is one of Panama’s newest museums, inaugurated on May 21, 2019.

Museum of Freedom and Human Rights Panama

Rohingya Refugee Camp

The Museum of Freedom and Human Rights was born from the conviction, “We are all called upon to defend human rights.” The Museum is a space where both the evolution and regression of Panama’s freedom, human rights and democracy, from before the republican era to the contemporary era, will be objectively documented and exhibited.

The Museum of Freedom and Human Rights will contribute to the greater knowledge of Panama’s democratic history, including its setbacks, achievements and challenges. Additionally, it will be a space to foster knowledge and awareness of freedom and human rights around the globe, in terms of the observance and promotion of globally accepted principles and values, both present and in the past.

Objectives of Panama’s Museo de la Libertad y los Derechos Humanos

The museum has two primary objectives:

  • Looking to the past, to make a historical rescue of facts and events that should not be forgotten.
  • Looking to the future, to teach and raise awareness around fundamental freedoms and human rights in Panama and the world, to promote their defense and to strengthen the democratic culture.

Exhibitions at Panama’s Museo de la Libertad y los Derechos Humanos

Equality Building

Human Rights: yours, mine, universal

The Equality Building is the Museum of Freedom and Human Rights’s inaugural exhibition. The Equality Building exhibition outlines the history of the recognition and ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Panama’s participation in the process.

Equality Building Museum of Freedom and Human Rights Panama

The Equality Building’s objective is to raise awareness and inspire visitors with illustrative cases, both national and international, of the expression and repression of these universal rights.

Memory Building

Panama’s Historic Memory

The Memory Building Exhibition is the Museum of Freedom and Human Rights’s central exhibition, which features Panama’s historical memory from the republican period to now. It illustrates key facts around important historical moments, such as the country’s independence, the military dictatorship, the 1989 invasion and the daily struggles for a representative democracy.

Memory Building Museum of Freedom and Human Rights Panama

Thanks to a collaboration with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Memory Building Exhibition will present a regional approach documenting illustrative cases that safeguard human rights.

Tolerance Building

Never Forget: the Holocaust and Nazi persecution during World War II.

The history of what happened to the Jewish people, disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, political opponents and other victims during the Second World War is known. The Tolerance Building presents the historical journey of what happened in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, seeking to encourage moral and educational values through this atrocity of the last century.

World Alert: Genocides of the 20th and 21st Centuries

During the 2Oth and 21st centuries we have witnessed atrocities and massacres; among them, genocides that have attempted to destroy the existence of specific groups of people. Historical and contemporary examples review extreme human cruelty and explore the definition of a genocide, warning signs and those situations that lead to inhumanities and exterminations.

The Tolerance Building explores and documents these terrible events, sending a message of hope, morals and education to future generations.

Location and Hours of Museo de la Libertad y los Derechos Humanos

Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Friday: 9:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 9:30 – 5:30pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm

Panama City Turns 500 on August 15, 2019

Panama City, Panama, the Pacific coast’s oldest European settlement, will turn 500 years on August 15, 2019, an event that has not gone unnoticed by large media outlets such as Vogue and The Telegraph.

Panama City 500

Though Panama celebrates 500 years this year, planning began in 2014 when the Municipality of Panama created the 500 Years Since the Founding of Panama City Commission, tasking it with creating the lead-up to the 500 years celebration, including activities and projects that would contribute to raising awareness, to education and to creating spaces for public participation, such as debate on the cultural, historical and patrimonial values of this historic city. The Panama City 500 Commission has the strategic, logistic and administrative support of the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). Read more about the UNDP’s participation here.









The Panama City 500 commemoration program has been created around 4 key pillars:

    • Activities focused on the recovery of historical memory and the creation of cultural infrastructure.
    • Events that highlight the diversity of cultural expressions that exist and coexist in the city. 
    • Activities that will be taken to Panama City neighborhoods in order to highlight the tradition of solidarity and tolerance, characteristics of Panama.
    • Activities that facilitate the collective reflection on the city we want for future generations, as well as the actions that allow the celebration to be known outside the country. 

Panama City 500 Events

Celebrations began in August 2017, including a variety of arts and cultural activities and events to commemorate this historic moment.  

Numerous events are planned leading up to August 15th, including:

Museum of Panama City

The Museum of Panama City has become an integral component of Panama City’s 500 year celebration on August 15, 2019. The Museum of Panama City is an initiative that seeks to present public spaces as itinerant exhibition halls, with the aim of encouraging dialogue among visitors.

Museum of Panama City MUCPA

This new cultural space will be an institution that is relevant, useful and close to people so that they can create content for exhibitions, propose activities and share with others. The Museum of Panama City (MUCPA) proposes to include the voices of citizens and residents as the main actors in the shaping of Panama City’s history. In order to achieve this, the Museum of Panama City will focus on inclusion, where over 600 people have participated to date. 

Museum of Panama City Location

The Museum of Panama City, including its exhibitions, activities and programs, intends to become an agent of change to generate a new way of perceiving Panama City. 

The museum will be simultaneously located in the following places. Get a detailed map here.

  • Avenida Ecuador
  • Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas para Estudios de la Salud
  • Casa Museo del Banco Nacional
  • Archivos Nacionales
  • Avenida Central
  • Ruta del 9 de Enero
  • Plaza Belisario Porras
  • Teatro Gladys Vidal y Edificio Hatillo

Museum of Panama City Exhibits

  1. To the sounds of coconuts: Urbanism in Panama City (A la bulla de los cocos: Urbanismo de la ciudad de Panamá)
    • Location: National Archive (Archivo Nacional). See map here.
    • Subject: Urbanism and cartography
    • Synopsis: Panama City is perceived as chaotic, disorderly and, to a certain extent, aggressive. However, looking back, it was not always like this. Check out the National Archive to learn more about the problems that a city can face once it stops worrying about growth and structure, as well as what’s being done to mitigate the current problems and those that climate change will bring in the following years.
    • Hours: Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  2. This is how the City was (Así fue la Ciudad)
    • Location: House of the Municipality (San Felipe). See map here.
    • Subject: Photography
    • Synopsis: Casco Viejo is known today for its beautifully restored buildings, delicious restaurants and trendy rooftop bars offering spectacular views of Panama City. However, at the end of the 19th century, before the arrival of the Universal Company of the Panama Interoceanic Canal (1882), the panorama was very different. At that time, thousands of travelers were crossing the isthmus headed for San Francisco, hoping to strike it rich, leaving behind written and photographic accounts of Panama City. One such account is that of Eadweard Muybridge, famous for his research and techniques on photographing movement.
    • Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  3. Imagining the City (Imaginando la Ciudad)
    • Location: Gladys Vidal Theater. See map here.
    • Subject: Film
    • Synopsis: Is it possible to analyze a society of a certain era through film? With this exhibition + film series, visitors can explore the last 115 years of audiovisual productions in Panama City to see how the urban landscape and imagery in films have changed. 
    • Date: Screenings every Thursday from June to December at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  4. Empowered Women (Empoderadas)
    • Location: Giant prints on several buildings’ exteriors in Calidonia. See map here.
    • Subject: Women
    • Synopsis: Many women have suffered, and currently suffer, a tangible difference in roles, functions, obligations and rights with respect to men. This discrimination limits or completely voids their independence and autonomy. This exhibition challenges the observer’s preconceptions about the work that a woman can or cannot do. Who said they were the weaker sex?
    • Date: June 2019
  5. Trans-Isthmic route (Ruta transístmica)
    • Location: Virtual reality goggles located in the Cuchilla de Calidonia (see map here) and the Remón Cantera Park.
    • Subject: Historic paths
    • Synopsis:  Since its founding, Panama City has been a strategic actor on the global political stage. This exhibition highlights Panama’s role as a commercial route and what it looked like during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
      Date: August 2019
  6. January 9, 1964: Road to sovereignty (El 9 de enero de 1964: camino a la soberanía)
    • Location: Travel from the National Institute (see map here), passing through Gorgas Street (see map here) to the Ascanio Arosemena training center in Balboa (see map here).
    • Subject: Civic responsibility
    • Synopsis: Download the Museum of Panama City’s audio guides and relive the afternoon of January 9, 1964, during which a group of students decided to peacefully march towards the former Canal Zone and request that US authorities raise the Panamanian flag in accordance with the agreements signed between the United States and Panama. The students were greeted by an amped-up crowd that started to push and shove. The Panamanian flag was torn in the midst of the brawl, unleashing a wave of violence that ended in an armed confrontation between civilians and the military, as well as the subsequent breakdown of diplomatic relations between Panama and the United States.
    • Date: August 2019
  7. The culture to the street (La cultura a la calle)
    • Location: Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies, Justo Arosemana Avenue, in front of the Hatillo Building. See map here.
    • Subject: Panama City cultural heritage
    • Synopsis: Through cultural manifestations, people can express where we come from, who we are or to which group we belong. However, the absence of cultural criteria in public policies of the State contributes to the destruction of cultural heritage. This exhibition will explore the cultural manifestations of Panama City’s residential communities, where we’ll realize that, in the end, we are all culture.
    • Date: September 2019
  8. Architectural Styles of the 20th Century (Estilos arquitectónicos del siglo XX)
    • Location: Various buildings in Calidonia (see map here) and Bella Vista (see map here).
    • Subject: Architecture
    • Synopsis: After four centuries of colonial architecture, the twentieth century represents a fracture in Panama City’s architectural history due to its integration of current international trends. In this exhibition, you will visit the city and get to know firsthand what are the aspects that differentiate one style from the other.
    • Date: September 2019
  9. Memories of the City (Memorias de la Ciudad)
    • Location: Avenida Ecuador. See map here.
    • Subject: Oral history
    • Synopsis: This exhibition features Panama City’s oral tradition through residents’ telling of their daily experiences.
    • Date: September 2019
  10. Panamanian style: Interpersonal stories (A lo panameño: historias interpersonales)
    • Location: National Bank House Museum
    • Subject: Art
    • Synopsis: This exhibition will explore a selection of stories that reflect interpersonal relationships throughout the centuries, featuring the voices of curators, emerging artists and members of the San Miguel community in Calidonia.
    • Date: October 2019
    • Hours: Monday through Friday.- 8 am to 4 pm

Quest’s World of Wonder – Panama City, Panama

Richard Quest, an English journalist best known for his reporting on CNN, recently launched a new video series called Quest’s World of Wonder, where he travels the globe to explore interesting places and meet fascinating people.

Quest’s World of Wonder – Panama City, Panama

Traveling is not just about seeing places with the most likes or getting iconic photos. It’s about finding a city’s DNA, meeting people who share its secrets. It’s about making discoveries that wow you and make you feel like a child again.

Quest’s World of Wonder – Panama City, Panama Trailer

Watch Quest’s World of Wonder – Panama City, Panama full episode here.

On Quest’s World of Wonder – Panama City, Panama, the 23-minute episode starts with the following Édgar Ramírez quote:

Panama is a country that’s been dealing with issues of identity since its very birth…

Following the quote, viewers see images from the Panama Canal, Portobelo and Panama Viejo while Richard Quest narrates:

Through the morning mist, it all becomes clear. A land so rich, so perfectly positioned between oceans Atlantic and Pacific; so advantageous, conquerors have sought possession for centuries. The place where life’s colors are rich and the water is the life blood of Panama City.

Quests World of Wonder Panama Viejo


Quest embarks upon his journey to Panama City, Panama at the mouth of the Panama Canal.

As Quest travels along the Panama Canal under the Bridge of the Americas, he comments that:

I’ll admit before this trip I knew very little about Panama City, besides the obvious; the eponymous canal, the dictator General Noriega and the scandal of the Panama Papers.

Now I want to understand the DNA of this place, and I quickly realize the isthmus of Panama is, of course, a bridge; a land bridge between North and South America, a water bridge between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and a cultural bridge bringing together all societies.

As a result, Panama is in the middle, and that’s created an identity crisis here… Who and what are the Panamanians?

Quests World of Wonder Panama Canal


Richard Quest in Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

Quest proceeds to explore Casco Viejo, where he tries on various Panama Hats and visits a variety of points of interest belong to the Casco Viejo walking tour.

Quests World of Wonder Panama Hat

Quests World of Wonder El Arco Chato Casco Viejo Panama

Quests World of Wonder Casco Viejo Panama

Quests World of Wonder Casco Viejo Panama City Panama

Quests World of Wonder Santa Maria La Antigua Basilica Cathedral Casco Viejo Panama

Casco Viejo Panama Quests World of Wonder

Watch Quest’s World of Wonder – Panama City, Panama full episode here.

Casco Viejo Museums

Founded by the Spanish in 1519, Panama City is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas that has been continuously occupied since its establishment.

The original city center was located in Panama Viejo for 152 years. Following a series of slave rebellions, fire and pirate attacks, the city center was moved in 1673 approximately 7.5 kilometers southeast to the area known today as Casco Viejo. The relocated town, positioned on a small peninsula at the foot of Ancon hill, had better access to water and, more importantly, could be fortified. Casco Viejo’s morphological conditions were advantageous for military engineers during the construction of a city wall, which prevented direct naval approaches by an enemy. While in Casco Viejo, check out Las Bóvedas. Las Bóvedas, or The Vaults, is the name commonly used to refer to the structures that form the walls that surround the Plaza de Francia, or France Plaza. The monumental complex consists of seven vaulted spaces that made up the city’s defensive system.

Casco Viejo as a Museum

Casco Viejo, Panama’s modern day historic district and home to an array of hotels, restaurants and bars, could be considered a museum itself. Its narrow streets, colonial facades and colorful residents make any trip through Casco Viejo a unique, exciting experience. Check out 10 unique things to do in Casco Viejo.

Declared a UNESCO protected district in 1997, Casco Viejo is home to several buildings that are important for Panama’s 17th-20th century heritage. Take a walking tour of Casco Viejo to discover them all. Amongst the various structures, the most notable are the churches, especially the cathedral with its five aisles and timber roof, as well as San Felipe Neri, San José, San Francisco and La Merced, which features a well-preserved colonial timber roof. All are included within the Casco Viejo walking tour.

Casco Viejo Panama

View from Magnolia Inn’s 3C

Present-day Casco Viejo is characterized by a unique blend of 19th and early 20th century architecture inspired in late colonial, Caribbean, Gulf Coast, French and eclectic (mostly Neo-Renaissance) styles. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, building styles underwent significant changes, though spatial principles were fundamentally preserved. Casco Viejo’s layout, a complex grid with streets and blocks of different widths and sizes, is an exceptional and probably unique example of 17th century colonial town planning in the Americas. These special qualities, which differentiate Casco Viejo from other colonial cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, resulted from the construction of the railroad (1850-55) and the canal (1880-1914) that linked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Museums in Casco Viejo

While in Casco Viejo, check out the following museums.

Panama Canal Museum

The Panama Canal Museum, or Museo del Canal Interoceánico de Panamá in Spanish, is a non-profit museum open to the public in Casco Viejo Panama. Located within Plaza de la Independencia on Calle 5a Este, it showcases the history of the construction of the Panama Canal and the efforts that were made to construct the canal, including the first time canal construction that was attempted (but then abandoned) by the French. The Panama Canal Museum traces the history of the construction by the United States and the transfer of its control to the Panamanian government.Panama Canal Museum

The building that houses the Panama Canal Museum is historically significant. Constructed around 1874, it served as the original headquarters for both the French Canal Company and the United States Isthmian Canal Commission. In 1912, the building served as Panama City’s Main Post Office.

The Canal Museum is filled with planning materials and interesting artifacts from the construction. Photos, site plans and much more are on display. The construction was an engineering feat for its time and placed the republic of Panama on the map. The entire museum is signposted in Spanish, and there are English speaking guides available, as well as audio tours that you can purchase for a small fee. Admission is free to Panamanians and legal residents on Sundays.

Panama History Museum

The Panama History Museum, or Museo de La Historia de Panamá, is housed within the Demetrio H. Brid Municipal Palace, located in front of the Plaza de la Independencia, diagonal to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama. The Municipal Palace is the seat of the mayor’s office and the council of the municipality of the district of Panama.

The Municipal Palace’s current structure, designed in the neoclassical style by Italian architect Genaro Ruggieri, who also designed the National Theater of Panama, was inaugurated in 1910. The colonial structure that stood prior to the current Municipal Palace was the Cabildo, or Town Council, that existed during the Spanish colonization. Despite the building’s relatively new construction, Panama’s Municipal Council is the oldest government institution on Tierra Firme of the American continent, initially founded in 1510 by Diego de Nicuesa in Santa María la Antigua of the Darién province and transferred to Panama City in 1519. The independence of Panama from Spain and from Colombia were declared during the Town councils of 1821 and 1903, respectively. The original acts are located within the Manuel A. Guerrero Session Room. The property was restored around 1975.

The current Panama History Museum was inaugurated in 1977 on the building’s second floor. The museum is framed in the context of the country’s history during the colonial period (1501 – 1821) the departmental period (1821 – 1903) and the republican period (1903 – present). The first Panamanian flag is housed within the museum, made by María Ossa de Amador, wife of Manuel Amador Guerrero, who also played a decisive role during the movement that led to the proclamation of the Republic of Panama.

Endara House Museum

Endara House Museum, or Museo Casa Endara, located on Avenida A and Calle 12, is the former residence of Panama photographer Carlos Endara. The building’s construction was completed in 1910, and has been beautifully restored. The museum opened in November 2008 and houses a selection of photographs and objects of Carlos Endara. A must for those interested in photography!

Museum of Religious Art

The Museum of Religious Art, located on Calle 53 Este, is part of the Santo Domingo Convent, which belongs to the list of 18 museums that are managed by the National Historical Heritage Office of the National Culture Institute (INAC). The Museum of Religious Art is Panama’s only colonial religious museum, featuring primarily visual arts from the 16th and 17th centuries and offering insight into Panama’s religious art history.

Casa Góngora

Casa Góngora, located on the corner of Avenida Central and Calle 4a Este, is the 17th century home of Paul Góngora Caceres, a Spanish pearl merchant. Casa Góngora is one of Panama’s oldest houses and an incredibly important piece of Panama’s colonial history. The house was originally constructed around 1760 and was restored in 1998-99. During the renovation, much of the original woodworking from the 17th century, including ornate doors, balconies and armor, was all kept in their original nature. The home is now owned by the government of Panama and it is the site of regular artist exhibitions featuring prominent Panamanian artists.