Casco Antiguo – The Historic Centre of Panama City
15 November, 2018
History and culture are two words that define the Old Quarter (Casco Antiguo) of this Central American city, which brings back to me beautiful memories of an esteemed group of friends with whom I had the honor of traveling and discovering corners of Panama. Today I bring you some of the sites of interest in this area worthy of admiration.
We arrived at the Old Quarter
The afternoon had began, Panamanian citizens welcomed us, they recorded us in a guestbook and immediately commented that we were right in front of the house of the famous Panamanian singer and composer Rubén Blades, located in a corner, three floors, color salmon and with several windows.
From there our pleasant walk started through narrow streets, surrounded by beautiful colonial-style houses. For that date, the old quarter was in full remodeling, but that did not prevent us from enjoying the place that surely is more attractive today.
Esteban Huertas Promenade
In the shape of tunnel and a garden of veraneras flowers, the also so-called Lovers Promenade received us, is a place bordered with concret benchs and vendors of handicrafts. It’s a great opportunity to buy souvenirs!
When Old Panama was destroyed by the attack of pirates in the year 1671, the city was transferred to a peninsula surrounded by reefs, which would serve as protection for future attacks. Great walls were built, on which is currently the called Veraneras Promenade.1
During the tour we met a gentleman, who beyond his seriousness offered joy to the walk with his musical instrument: the banjo.
At the end of the walk Esteban Huertas we met Las Bóvedas (vaults), made as part of the defensive system of the city. The square has an obelisk with a rooster on the top, surrounded by a set of busts that honor the five French engineers who coordinated the first attempt to build the Panama Canal.
We read the history in the ten 3-meter-high plates located in the vaults. They were made of marble and have the complete chronicle of the Canal engraved.
We continued with the tour and a small square in honor of El Libertador Simón Bolívar surprised us. History describes that in that space a fire occurred and burned the houses that were there. The San Francisco de Asis Church is also seen in the photograph below.
San José Church
An altar covered with gold we observe when entering the San José Church, imposing for its size, historical and mineral value. There is a legend where it is said that the priests in charge of the temple in 1671, knowing that the ships were approaching, had the brilliant idea of painting it black to deceive the pirates who attacked the city and thus prevented the jewel from being stolen.
The art and history that surrounds the Old Quarter of Panama with its impressive buildings led it to be declared in the year 1997 Historical Heritage of Humanity.
I leave you with a charming detail of the Old Quarter: a square that gives us the spectacular view of modern Panama and the skyscrapers that identify the present of a country with a valuable history.