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Casco Viejo is the “Old Quarter” in Panama City; the capital of Panama.

It may be said of many places in the world that a visitor would feel like they were “stepping back in time” when they visit. for the very first time. The Old Quarter is such a place.

Casco Viejo is a World Heritage Site and generally described as the historic center of a very modern city. It is also a popular destination on many Panama tours and features homes with unique balconies that are simply overflowing with flowers.

Many of the building structures in Casco Viejo Panama were built in the French style and during a period of strong French influence. The unique ambience of Casco Viejo resembles the more-famous French Quarter of New Orleans.

In recent years lucky travellers have discovered exceptional entertainment at the many new night clubs, restaurants and shopping opportunities now available in the “Old Quarter.”

Gold Altar of San Jose Cathedral

San Jose Cathedral is just a short distance away from Casco Viejo. Visitors come to San Jose Cathedral to see the Gold Altar, an example of fine woodcarving that is gilded with real gold.

Other visitors set aside time to visit the Presidential House, which is open for tours on Sunday.

La Vieja – Old Panama

Panama La Vieja or Old Panama is the name given to a part of the city located on the Pacific Coast. The strong Spanish influence is still visible here with a history that goes back hundreds of years to the time when expeditions passed through or stopped on their way to find gold and silver.

The historic Old Panama district, firmly settled in modern Panama City, has its own pattern of streets and buildings that invoke a much different lifestyle than what one finds in the modern metropolis.

Tourists to Panama’s La Vieja (which means “old woman” will find the ruins of the old cathedral and bell tower still standing, along with the residence known as the Bishop’s House. You can view photos here.

Old Panama’s Kuna Market

While visiting Casco Viejo and Old Panama many visitors enjoy some leisure time at the Kuna Market. The market features unique crafts, fresh produce, and other items that showcase the exceptional talent of the Kuna native population.

At one point in their history, the native Kuna people could be found in many other areas of the country but they now live primarily in the northern section of Panama as well as part of the San Blas Archipelago.

Panama Canal Museum

No visit to Panama or Panama City would be complete without some quality time in the Panama Canal Museum. Formally called the Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum, this institution is conveniently located in the Casco Viejo area, near Plaza de la Independencia.

Regarded as one of the best museums in the country, the Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum provides a detailed history of the construction and operation of this massive early 20th century project. With exhibits on two floors, the Panama Canal Museum does offer some English information but much of the text is in Spanish. For two dollars visitors can get a rather thorough education on the canal, its history, and construction.

Casco Viejo Part of Caravan Panama Tours

Panama City, Old Panama and Casco Viejo are included as part of Caravan Tours’ all inclusive Panama Tours. These are fully escorted 8-day tours, which are exceptionally priced starting at just $1,295 and include all hotels, meals, and itinerary excursions.

Visit Panama Tours Reservations to check tour availability.

Call Caravan toll free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).

old panama city

Old Panama and Panama City may well be some of the best unknown jewels of Central America, if not the world; yet to be discovered by vacationing world travellers.

Panama City

Some visitors to the capital have described it as a cosmopolitan metropolis, small in size but rivalling some of the world’s better known and favorite tourist cities. The city’s population is approximately half a 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. Tocumen International Airport offers efficient airport service and the city has strong financial and Internet communications, excellent entertainment facilities, plus modern hotels and restaurants to rival any large city.

In fact, this capital city 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 here 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 been slowly coming into its own.

Nonetheless, 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

The capital’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.

Casci Viejo 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 here offer local crafts and market goods all along the ocean front near the architectural ruins.

French Quarter

Casco Viejo is considered to be the historic hub of this capital city. French-period homes in this part of Old Panama have marvellous balconies and line the narrow streets. This a popular place for strolling and taking in the unique atmosphere. The area is sometimes described as the “French Quarter” 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. Vasco Nunez de Balboa is believed to be the first European person to see the Pacific coast of Central America in 1513. The Balboa statue stands above the bay and its well-maintained flowerbeds and plant displays are a good photo opportunity.

Caravan 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.

Both destinations are included as part of Caravan Tours’ all inclusive Panama Tours. These fully escorted 8-day tours are exceptionally priced, starting at just $1,295.

Visit our Tours Reservations to check availability.

Or call Caravan toll-free at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).