Panamá - Central America’s Most Attractive Capital!
When you first arrive in Panama City you’ll be tempted to compare it to some of the great seaside cosmopolitan cities. But cosmopolitan doesn’t quite capture the full and unique beauty of this city. It is a wonderful combination of historic French and Spanish from a bygone era with a modern, chic international flare. When you first gazing upon the Miami like skyline, you” realize why so many say they had no idea Panama City was such a modern and beautiful capital city, perhaps the most attractive capital in all of Central America.
Newsweek says, “To escape to sunnier shores – there’s no hotter destination than Panama City. Best known for being home to the architectural feat called The Panama Canal, this lively Latin American city is just a stone’s throw from some of Central America’s richest rain forests…”
Panama City has always been known as a crossroads – the bridge of the Americas where two continents meet. The cultural impact manifests itself with local peoples who are as diverse as the countries each continent they join and very accustomed to visitors. This makes for some of the friendliest and helpful people in the world.
After a short time in the city one comes to realize that this city is actually three cities in one. Each a delight to all the senses. The first impression is of the modern Miami style skyscraper city, next is the historic colonial Casco Viejo and finally there are the ruins of the original first city of Panama known as Panama Viejo.
Panama Viejo (Old Panama) – the first city of Panamá
This is the site of the original Panama City of the 16th century. Founded in 1517, Panama Viejo was actually the very first city to be built on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. The reason for building here was to serve as a base for the transfer of riches the Spanish would plunder from the Peruvian Incan Empire to Spain via Panama.
In 1671, it was destroyed and burnt to the ground by Henry Morgan, the infamous English pirate. When visiting Panama City be sure to stop by the Panama Vieja Museum which has exhibits displaying the history and daily life of the time including recent artifacts archaeologists continue to find through their ongoing excavations. You’ll see an impressive scale model replica of the old city, but take note the exhibits are all in Spanish, so a tour is best taken with a tour operator or a very good Spanish/English dictionary (see our Panama Travel Tools page for an excellent recommendation) unless of course you already speak and read Spanish that is.
Casco Viejo (old helmet) – THE SECOND CITY OF PANAMÁ
Casco Viejo dates back to the 17th century and is another protected heritage site whoever in this case the city is no longer a ruin but a
thriving renaissance. There are a number of historical buildings through Casco Veijo which have been fully restored to their original grandeur including - 17th century churches, convents, 18th and 19th century buildings which reflect Panama City’s long history as the crossroads of the Americas. You can enjoy historical walking tours, fine restaurants, cafes, shopping and fun night life.
Metropolitan Panama City – the third city OF PANAMÁ
Set on the beautiful Bay of Panama, modern Panama City is known for its booming business and banking district. Here you will find first world infrastructure, and an offshore banking system that rivals that of Hong Kong. In fact, outside of Hong Kong, Panama City is the largest offshore banking center in the world. Like many cosmopolitan cities modern Panama offers up a lively nightlife, world class restaurants offerring unparalleled selection of cuisines, attractive residential neighborhoods and is also the only city in the world which can boast a Metropolitan Park which is also a rainforest.
Panama City has many other things it can boast about too. Like being the safest large city in all of Central America for tourists and businessmen. And, it is acknowledged by numerous magazines for other ‘bests’ like – best place to base an international business and best place to retire.
Since 9/11 Panama City has experienced tremendous growth and has all but replaced Miami as the business meeting destination of the Americas. This is due to the fact most international companies can no longer predictably get US visas for their employees to attend meetings in the United States. Since the walls went up in the US a new business destination for the Americas was needed. Panama City has risen to fit the bill perfectly with it’s modern infrastructure, central location, beautiful setting and direct flights to and from all over the world.
What do you know about Panama City? Share any interesting spots you have discovered – how about a favorite restaurant? Park? or attraction? Leave your comments, suggestions, stories below -