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Panama City

Panama City is surprisingly modern in comparison to other Central American capital cities. With a strong American influence due to the Panama Canal, you will notice some similarities to American cities in the companies represented, the sheer size of buildings along the city line and service attitudes–this might just be the only place in Latin America where restaurants bring you a free glass of water with ice when you sit down. Featuring around 120 banks, Panama City is the home to much of the Latin American banking industry. Shopping is also exceptionally good due in a large part to low import duties and large volume; Panama City has also developed a taste for the American-style mall with monstrous complexes in and outside of the city.

With a city coastline on the Pacific Ocean, some of the cheapest and best shopping in Latin America, some great islands just off the coast and the Panama Canal less than an hour away, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy in Panama City. Here are some of the highlights:

- Shopping along the 20 blocks from Avenida Central to Via España in the Bella Vista district. Much of this stretch consists of clean tree-lined pedestrian walkways.

-Casco Viejo is a charming colonial district along the water, to the southern end of the Bahía de Panamá. It features narrow streets and colorful balconies loaded with flowerboxes. French Park is a monument to the French builders who began the Panama Canal at the tip of the district. There are some good museums like the Canal Museum, the Museum of National History and a small museum near the old cathedral which is dedicated to religious art. The Presidential House is a lovely building which can be toured on Sundays.

- There are a couple of museums in Panama city worth a look. The Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz has exhibits on Panamanian history, anthropology and archaeology along with a rare collection of pre-Colombian gold objects and ceramics. The Museo Afro-Antillano features an illustrated history of Panama’s West Indian community and their work on the Panama Canal. The Museo de Canal Interoceanico is a must for those interested in the history of the canal.

- Miraflores Lock on the Panama Canal is one of the main tourist centers, where you can see boats slowly making their way through the canal. Complete with grandstands, exhibits and a running loudspeaker explanation, you can easily stay for an hour or two. It doesn’t hurt to call ahead and ask when a boat will be coming through; otherwise, you’ll find yourself staring at a lock filled with brown water. Buses run regularly from the huge intersection near the Legislative Palace. The trip is about 45 minutes.

- Old Panama, Panama Viejo, is about two miles north of the center of modern-day Panama City and was the first capital, founded in 1519 and sacked by pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Mostly colonial structures here were created by the Spanish and used as a base to invade the Inca Empire in South America. This was als a central storage and shipping port for the wealth stolen from the Andes region in South America. Because of the great storehouses of Inca wealth here, pirates like Henry Morgan were attracted to the city and led to its eventual end.

- Islands just outside of the city like Isla Tabago can be reached by speedboat from the docks about half an hour outside of the main city and offer a complete escape from life in the congested city. The water is much cleaner out here than it is in the city. However, you will see large ships and oil rigs anchored in the distance, waiting to pass through the Panama Canal.

- Before the Panama Canal, the Panama Railroad was used to transport goods from one ocean to another through this skinny stretch of Panama. Recently re-opened, you can travel through the rainforest and pass parts of the Panama Canal. If you want to take a daytrip, there are daily trains from Panama City to Colon for about $20 round trip leaving at 7 a.m. and returning at 5:30 p.m.

Neighborhoods in Panama City: The Causeway, Los Angeles, La Exposicion, El Valle De Anton, Casco, Bella Vista, Casco Viejo , El Cangrejo,

Other places in Panama: Las Uvas, Boca Chica, Bocas del Toro, El Valle De AntĂłn, David, Las Lajas, Boca Chica and Boquete.







30 Jun 2010

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Top Places in Panama City

The Causeway

104554Overview Located on a strip of land that until 1999 was US-owned territory, this long causeway linking three islands on the entrance to the Panama Canal is being developed at a rapid rate and is a ...
City Zone
The Causeway, Panama City, Panama

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo (the old quarter) was founded in 1673 after the famous Capt. Morgan for whom the rum is named burned down the original city. It sits on a peninsula with Bahia De Panama on one side and ...
City Zone
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Bella Vista

Bella Vista is a neighborhood in central Panama City located between El Cangrejo and La Exposicion. It's a pleasant part of town, with views over the city all the way to the Amador. Avenida Balboa, a ...
City Zone
Bella Vista, Panama City, Panama

La Exposicion

Lacking the glitz and sparkle of Bella Vista and the colonial charm of Casco Viejo, La Exposicion really doesn't have that much to offer visitors. It was Panama City's downtown center in the 1920's, ...
City Zone
La Exposicion, Panama City, Panama

El Cangrejo

El Cangrejo is Panama City's swankiest neighborhood, home to posh hotels, upscale restaurants, and casinos galore. While there are a few hostels in the area, it's generally not a place for budget ...
City Zone
El Cangrejo, Panama City, Panama

El Valle De Anton

El Valle is a place to relax and enjoy Panama's beautiful mountains and ...
City Zone
El Valle De Anton, Panama City, Panama

Things to do in Panama City

Teatro Nacional

123588Fronted with busts of famous writers, this cultural center hosts operas, plays, ballets and performances of all types. The building is about 100 years old, and is decorated with frescoes by Roberto ...
Historical Building
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Plaza Francia

123589This plaza is part of a monument honoring France's contributions to the construction of the Panama Canal. There's often a delightful breeze blowing through, and from the end of the walkway you can ...
City Plaza
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis

123587This cathedral was one of the original structures from Casco Viejo. It was ravaged by fire in 1737 and again in 1756. The cathedral was restored in 1998, and is now one of the most striking churches ...
Historical Building
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Plaza BolĂ­var

123586Away from the bustle of Lima’s downtown lies the green park of Plaza Bolívar, flanked by three of Lima’s more interesting museums. Travel back 8,000 years as you peruse the Pre-Columbian ...
City Plaza
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Presidential Palace

123585Nicknamed "Palacio de las Grazas" after the African herons that stalk its grounds, this modest but beautiful building is the office of Panama's president. The street is quite heavily ...
Historical Building
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Panama Viejo Ruins

104598 This area is what is left of the original Panama City, but there is not much still standing. Old stone walls and tower ruins is all that remains, but there are interesting features in the ...
Ruin
Panama City, Panama

Canal Traverse

104596 Several companies offer trips on the Panama Canal—a great way to experience the workings of this engineering masterpiece first-hand. Partial transits, which takes you through three locks and the ...
Boating
Panama City, Panama

Miraflores Locks

104595 This is the best place to find out about the Canal and watch it in action. About 14km out of the city, this newly created visitors centre and museum sits right on the edge of the double lock that ...
Museum
Panama City, Panama

Arco Chato (the flat arch)

Something of an archaeological curiosity, the Arco Chato is a long, flat arch that sits inside the crumbling remains of the Church of Saint Dominic. The church was destroyed by fires twice in the ...
Ruin
Casco, Panama City, Panama

Tiger's Hand Bastion (Mano de Tigre)

This crumbling ruin is one of the last remaining sections of Panama's 17th-century fortifications. As a historical site, it's not particularly impressive. As of July 2008, a homeless man was living ...
Ruin
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama

Antiguo Club Union

This ruin was once an elegant neoclassical building. It was constructed in 1917 as the posh Union Club. It was later transformed into an officer's club for the Panamanian army. Apparently, it was ...
Ruin
Casco Viejo , Panama City, Panama
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