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:

  • HISTORIC PANAMA
    • Activities focused on the recovery of historical memory and the creation of cultural infrastructure.
  • DIVERSE PANAMA
    • Events that highlight the diversity of cultural expressions that exist and coexist in the city. 
  • SUPPORTIVE PANAMA
    • Activities that will be taken to Panama City neighborhoods in order to highlight the tradition of solidarity and tolerance, characteristics of Panama.
  • POSSIBILITY 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.

5 Little Known Facts about the Panama Hat

The Panama hat is an icon of Panama. They keep the sun off your face in an incredibly stylish fashion, as well as being a perfect souvenir for your loved ones back home.

The Panama hat has been around for over 100 years. Theodore Roosevelt and his team proudly sported their Panama hats upon returning from Panama in 1906, during which they visited the Panama Canal construction.

 

Theodore Roosevelt using a Panama hat

US President Theodore Roosevelt using a “Panama hat” at the opening of the Panama Canal

 

Later, the glamorous style of the 1940s put these hats on an even more visible pedestal. Throughout history, people from all walks of life, including presidents, artists, and politicians, have sported Panama hats. Household names throughout the 20th and 21st centuries have used the Panama hat, including Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Gary Cooper, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Paul Newman, Alberto Santos Dumont and celebrities of today like Johnny Depp, Sean Connery, Kevin Spacey, Madonna, Monica Bellucci, and Javier Bardem, among many others.

 

Gregory Peck holding a Panama hat on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird

Gregory Peck holding a Panama hat on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird

 

Robert Redford wears a Panama hat in the Great Gatsby in 1974

Robert Redford wears a Panama hat in the Great Gatsby in 1974

 

Following are 5 facts that you may not have known about the famous Panama hat:

1. The Panama hat is made entirely in Ecuador

This fact usually tops the list of Panama hat facts. Though it may no longer be “little known”, it’s a fun fact to share since many people still believe that the Panama hat is made in Panama, an easy assumption to make!

Panama hats are hand-woven in Ecuador by craftsmen hailing from the cities of Cuenca and Montecristi. These hats became known as “Panama hats” due to their massive export from Ecuador to Panama during the 19th century, promoted by Manuel Alfaro y Gonzalez and his wife during the construction of the Panama Canal. Legend has it that Manuel Alfaro y Gonzalez provided the hat that Theodore Roosevelt was photographed using during the Panama Canal inauguration on the condition that he said that the hat had been made in Ecuador, which did not happen. To make the Panama hat’s origin even more unclear, the hats were exported worldwide from Panama, leading people to associate them with their shipping origin rather than their manufacturing origin.

Creating a Panama hat includes over 30 steps, from the selection and harvest of the toquilla straw to the tightness of the weave. The two most common weave patterns for the Panama Hat are the Brisa and the Cuenca. Read more about Panama hat weave patterns here.

2. The Panama hat is made from toquilla straw

Toquilla straw comes from the leaves of the toquilla palm, whose scientific name is “carludovica palmata”. The plant is grown on the Ecuadorian coast, mainly in the province of Manabí. Farmers cultivate the toquillales and harvest the stems before separating the fiber from the outer skin. This is boiled to remove chlorophyll and dried for bleaching. Using this fiber, weavers produce the pattern, the crown and the brim of the hat and complete the process by washing, bleaching, oven treatment, ironing and pressing. Weaving a hat can take from one day to eight months, depending on its quality and finesse.

3. Not all Panama hats are equal

Though no industry-wide grading systems and standards exists for Panama hats, everyone can agree that quality can greatly vary among hats and sellers. Buyer beware… One seller’s grade 10, for example, can vary greatly from another seller’s grade 10.

A Panama hat’s quality is determined by a variety of factors, most notably the straw and the weave.

  • The Straw: In general terms, the finer, the more identical, and the more evenly colored the straw, the better the quality of the hat.
  • The Weave: The denser the weave and the more even they are, the better the quality of the hat.

Oftentimes, hats are categorized as “Montecristi fino” or “Montecristi superfino” and so on. Some manufacturers and retailers supply numbered grades, such as 1-20, but, as previously mentioned, these aren’t universally recognized terms.

The best way to measure the fineness of a woven hat is to count the rows of weave per inch (or 2.5 centimeters), first horizontally then vertically. Read more about Panama hat grades here.

The finest Panama hats have over 2,000-4,000 weaves per square inch, taking the hat maker between four and eight months to produce. Taking into consideration the time and skill involved, these hats will not come cheap.

4. Panama hats come in a variety of styles

A Panama hat’s style is determined by two primary characteristics: the shape and size of the brim and the crown.

The most common Panama hat styles are:

Fedora Panama hat

The Fedora style rose to fame during the 1940s, being the hat of choice in a variety of classic films, including Casablanca and Key Largo. It remains the most popular style today, and includes a variety of variations.

Panama Hat in Casablanca Humphrey Bogart Ingrid Bergman

Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman using a Fedora Panama hat in Casablanca

 

Anthony Hopkins using a Fedora style Panama Hat in Hannibal

Anthony Hopkins using a Fedora Panama hat in Hannibal

 

Optimo Panama hat

The Optimo is the classic Panama hat style, called the Natural in Ecuador. The Optimo gained popularity among British travelers and expats while traveling the tropics of countries like India, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Even today, the Optimo style is more popular in the UK than in the US. Like the Fedora, the Optimo comes in a variety of styles.

Peter O'Toole using an Optimo Panama Hat in the Last Emperor

Peter O’Toole using an Optimo Panama hat in the Last Emperor

 

Gregory Peck using an Optimo Panama Hat

Gregory Peck using an Optimo Panama hat

 

Monte Carlo Panama hat

The original Planter style, as immortalized by Clark Gable in Gone With The Wind. Charlton Heston wore a very wide brim version in his portrayal of a South American plantation owner in Naked Jungle.

Nowadays, the most common interpretation of this style is usually called a “Gambler”. Since most of them are shaped on a hat press, the outer edge of the brim turns up a bit.

 

Panama Hat in Gone with the Wind Clark Gable

Clark Gable using a Monte Carlo Panama hat in Gone With The Wind

 

Panama Hat in The Naked Jungle Charlton Heston Eleanor Parker

Charlton Heston & Eleanor Parker using a Monte Carlo Panama hat in The Naked Jungle

 

5. The finest Panama hat ever woven has an estimated value of $100,000

In 2008, B. Brent Black commissioned the finest Montecristi hat ever woven, also known as “The Hat”. It took master weaver Simon Espinal, who lives in the village of Pile in the Montecristi Canton of Ecuador, five months to weave, and four more weeks for five more artisans to do their parts to finish it.

100000 dollar Montecristi Panama Hat

“The Hat”

Where to Get Ice Cream & Popsicles in Casco Viejo Panama

Panama City is the ideal spot to take advantage of a cold treat. The Republic of Panama, located on the isthmus linking Central and South America, has a tropical maritime climate, where the daily high is around 32° Celsius (or about 89° Fahrenheit) and the daily low around 25° Celsius (or about 77° Fahrenheit). Panama is also very humid, especially during the rainy season, which runs from May to December, where the humidity is around 80%. Get for your skin, but not so great for those that tend to overheat (or suffer from frizzy hair).

So, after being embraced by Panama’s heat and humidity for over a decade, what’s the best way to cool down? From the inside out!

While in Casco Viejo, check out the following shops where you’re guaranteed to find a delicious, refreshing treat.

Ay Mi Negra

Website: http://ayminegra.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ayminegra/
Telephone: 388-8452
Address: Avenida B, Casa Perez (next to Hotel Tantalo), Casco Viejo, Panama

Ay Mi Negra, boasting over 75,000 followers on Instagram, is a self-proclaimed “exotic dessert bar”, offering a menu of crepes, ice cream rolls and waffle pops. Ay Mi Negra’s most recommended menu items include the Kinder Addict, Mi Otro Amora, María María and the Waffle Pop de Nutella.

Ay Mi Negra prepares their unique, artisinal desserts right in front of your eyes on a cold stone. Though the locale and dessert variety are relatively small, the presentation and flavor combination are on point. The prices are reasonable and the portions are HUGE. Come hungry or ready to share!

Although (and most likely because) the desserts are so delicious, the wait can be very long (depending on the day and time of day)… Anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes.

 

Forever Yogurt

Website: http://www.foreveryogurt.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foreveryogurt/
Telephone: 228-6756
Address: Av. A Casa Vidal (next to Las Bovedas), Casco Viejo, Panama

Forever Yogurt is a franchise self-serve froyo shop. With over 85 rotating flavors (and approximately 14 at any one time) and over 100 toppings, it’s hard to go wrong! Are you Kosher? Or allergic to gluten? No problem! Forever Yogurt is certified Kosher in Panama, as well as provides options that are gluten free, sugar free and lactose free.

Toppings range from healthy, like nuts and fruit, to deliciously unhealthy, like Reese’s Pieces and Butterfingers.

Buyer beware… Forever Yogurt charges by weight. At 89 cents an ounce, a yogurt can end up costing $15 and upwards.

GranClément

Website: http://www.granclement.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/granclement_icecream/
Telephone: 223-6277
Address: Avenida Central, between Calle 3ra & 4ta (diagonal to Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia), Casco Viejo, Panama

GranClément serves traditional, gourmet ice cream and sorbets. Founded in 2005 by a French chef glacier (a chef responsible for preparing ice cream and cold desserts) who had relocated from France to Panama.

GranClément’s kitchen values are quality, flavor and tradition. They use only raw materials that are high quality, natural and without any dye or artificial flavoring. GranClément recently added a vegan dairy-free ice cream and a light ice cream (low in fat and sugar) to their menu.

GranClément’s msot popular flavors are Dulce de Leche, Pistachio, Rocky Road and Blackberry.

 

PalettAmerica

Website: http://palettamerica.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/palettamerica/
Telephone: 389-5238
Address: Calle 1era Oeste, Casco Viejo, Panama

PalettaAmerica serves gourmet, 100% natural paletas, or popsicles.

Customers can choose from simple, fruit-based popsicles, like strawberry or kiwi, or opt for a more decadent option, like the “Kit Kat” or “La Colombiana”. The Kit Kat is a gelatto popsicle with a Kit Kat bar inside. “La Colombiana” is a cappuccino-flavored gelatto popsicle. Customers can also make their own in three simple steps… 1) Choose your popsicle, 2) Choose your dipping, 3) Choose your topping.

The most recommended popsicles are Cheesecake, Mojito, Venezolana, Colombiana, S’mores and Mexicana.

 

La Michoacana

Website: http://www.lamichoacanapty.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lamichoacanapty/
Telephone: 398-5990
Address: Av. B 7, Casco Viejo, Panama

La Michoacana has over 110,000 followers on Instagram, as well as countless pictures that will make your mouth water.

La Michoacana’s claim to fame is their popsicles. Options range from healthy, fruit-based to delightfully sinful, where their most famous popsicle is the strawberry filled with condensed milk. In addition to popsicles, they serve traditional ice cream and “raspado”, or shaved ice, as well.

The most recommended items are strawberry filled with condensed milk, mango and chile, watermelon filled with lemon and the strawberry and mango.

 

Rass

Website: https://www.rasspanama.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rasspanama/
Telephone: 389-8577
Address: Calle 8 Este, Casa Morales, Casco Viejo, Panama

Rass Panama is the self-proclaimed first gourmet “Raspadería”, or Shaved Ice Shop, in Panama.

Rass features a variety of natural flavors, including citrus (orange, lemon and lime), pineapple, coconut, strawberry, passion fruit, blueberry, and cherimoya. To liven up your shaved ice, you can add condensed milk, malted milk or molasses.

The counter features a “diablo rojo”, or red devil, a  symbol of Panamanian culture that have been disappearing from the streets. Diablo rojos are school buses from the United States, bought second hand and shipped to Panama, that undergo a makeover to become an extremely colorful, and oftentimes loud, means of transportation.

 

Benissimo

Website: http://benissimopanama.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/benissimopanama/
Telephone: 388-0559
Address: Avenida A Esquina Calle 4ta, Casco Viejo, Panama

Benissimo is a gourmet gelato and coffee shop, featuring 100% natural, hand crafted ice cream. If you’re in the mood for savory, they have options as well.

Unlike some of the other dessert shops mentioned, Buenissimo’s atmosphere is welcoming and cozy. Whether you’re looking to enjoy your sweet treat in peace, to catch up on some work or to have an informal meeting, it’s an ideal spot.

The most recommended desserts are the straciatella ice cream, the brownie gelato and the waffle gelato.