Panama City may well be one of the unknown jewels of Central America, if not the world; yet to be discovered by vacationing world travellers.
Some visitors to Panama City have described it as a cosmopolitan metropolis, small in size but rivalling some of the world’s better known and favorite tourist cities. Panama City’s population is approximately one million making it less congested and more attractive to visitors as well as new residents.
Panama City has retained its old world heritage charm yet it is modern in all the right ways with efficient airport service, strong financial and Internet communications, excellent entertainment plus hotels and restaurants to rival any large city.
In fact, the city of Panama is consistently rated as one of the world’s optimal locations for retirement and boasts a vibrant stable economy.
Surprisingly, many of the sights, tourist attractions and activities of Panama and the capital, Panama City, remain relatively unknown to most travellers.
While the majority of Central American tourism focuses on the beaches, rainforests and biodiversity of Guatemala and Costa Rica, Panama has yet to come into its own.
onetheless, Panama City has earned its reputation as a symbol of American culture and was chosen as the American Capital of Culture for 2003.
Old Panama – Casco Viejo
Panama City’s “old quarter” is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is commonly referred to as Old Panama or Casco Viejo. This is actually the original site of the first Spanish settlement that served as the base for the Spanish conquest over the Inca Empire back in the early 1500s.
Old Panama was the first European settlement in Central America and became an important trade route especially for the export of Central American gold and silver to Europe.
Over the past five hundred years the unique architecture of Old Panama developed into a pleasing blend of Caribbean, Spanish colonial and French art deco however centuries of marauding pirates and fires have created many architectural ruins that continue to attract tourists and history buffs from around the globe.
The remains of the original cathedral, a bell tower and the bishop’s house still stand. Current residents of Old Panama offer local crafts and market goods all along the ocean front near the ruins.
Casco Viejo is considered to be the historic hub of the Panama City. French-period homes with marvellous balconies line the narrow streets, making this a popular place for strolling and taking in the unique atmosphere. The area is sometimes described as the “French Quarter” of Panama City, in reference to the historic and exciting section of New Orleans. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping, along with good restaurants and clubs.
Other Old Panama Attractions
The Golden Altar of Iglesia San Jose is another popular tourist attraction, as is the Vasco Nunez de Balboa Park, a monument to the explorer of the same name. Balboa is believed to be the first European person to see the Pacific coast of Central America in 1915. The statue stands above Panama Bay and its well-maintained flowerbeds and plant displays are a good photo opportunity.
Part of Caravan’s All Inclusive Panama Tours
Whether you go to Panama City for the modern metropolis, or to explore the history and architecture of Old Panama, you will surely not be disappointed.
Panama City and Old Panama are included as part of Caravan Tours’ all inclusive Panama Tours. These fully escorted 9-day tours are exceptionally priced, starting at just $1,195.
Visit Panama Tours Reservations to check tour availability.