Panamá City, Casco Viejo and Panama Canal

Panamá City, Casco Viejo and Panama Canal

Panama City - Ciudad de Panamá

Panama City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Latin America and experienced a strong economic boom due to the construction of the Panama Canal, which is noticeable by a modern business district and large skyscrapers.

An old, modern city with a high fascination factor: Panama City

In Central America, between the Atlantic and the Pacific, lies Panama's capital Panama City. The metropolis counts more than one million inhabitants and trumps with a breathtaking diversity. This is due in particular to the natural growth of the city: it was founded as early as 1519. Buildings from the colonial era can be admired in the picturesque old town of Casco Viejo. To get a bird's eye view of them, a visit to the roof terraces of the Tantalo or Casa Panama hotels is a good idea. While sipping a strong Central American coffee, you can admire the time-honoured buildings and at the same time take a look at the new centre of the metropolis. In this dominate skyscrapers, which give an indication of Panama City as a business location.

The most beautiful views of Panama City are obtained along the route from Avenida Balboa, past the fish market - Mercado de Mariscos on Cinta Costera overlooking the picturesque old town of Casco Viejo.

In the area from the Amador towards the BioMuseo on the Calzada de Amador was at that time the PANAMA lettering, which was an absolute "selfie must-have" with the skyline in the background. Now the lettering is located at the Cinta Costera and on the Isla Flamenco, also known as "Parador Fotografico - Panama Sign".

Along this causeway, one has a view to the Puente de las Américas in the southern entrance of the Panama Canal on one side and the most breathtaking view to the skyline of Panamá City on the other side. The causeway then continues to three islands Isla Naos, Isla Perico and Isla Flamenco with many restaurants and boat docks.

The old town - Casco Viejo

In 1997, the historic district "Casco Viejo" of the old town of Panamá City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Casco Antiguo / San Felipe)

In the center around the Plaza Mayor, currently called "Plaza de la Independencia", there is the "Catedral Metropolitana", the city hall and the "Canal Interoceánico" museum.

Pure nature in the middle of and near the city

The contrasting buildings are just one reason why this city of millions is so fascinating.

It also provides an insight into the flora and fauna typical of the region with its extensive Metropolitan National Park. The green oasis may even remind some people of Central Park in New York. Birds of different colors soar over the treetops, while turtles and small lizards make their way through the thicket. Sloths can be seen here and there. Agutis search for food in the grass.

If you want to relax right by the sea, take a detour from the capital to the nearby beaches: A short trip by rental car or taxi will take you to top beach destinations near the metropolis like Punta Chame. Remarkable oases of peace with palm trees are also the islands off the coast such as Isla Taboga, Isla Saboga and Isla Contadora. People like to come there to relax from the stress of everyday life, to dive or to sail.

Panama Canal an engineering masterpiece

As part of a trip to Panama City, a visit to the most important waterway in the world should not be missed: the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal - Visit the masterpiece on vacation

As part of a trip to Panama City, a visit to the most important waterway in the world must not be missed: the Panama Canal. It is located only a few kilometers from the capital and represents a unique connection for large merchant ships between the Atlantic and the Pacific. The 82-kilometer-long shipping lane saves the large container ships the much longer sea connection via the Strait of Magellan in the southern tip of South America. Construction of the canal was arduous and dangerous. More than 20,000 workers lost their lives before it was finally completed in 1914. It is worthwhile to visit the waterway and at the same time have a look at the tropical landscape of the country.

Construction phases and history of the canal

Already in the first colony times in the 16th century there were trade connections with packed donkeys through the rain forest from the Caribbean to the Pacific side. During this time the first ideas for the construction of a canal were born.

With a first construction phase starting in 1881, over a second construction phase starting in 1894, until finally in 1914 the first freighter passed the canal, several decades passed.

In each construction phase there were financial problems and political disputes. Until 1999 the canal was guarded by the US Army. After that, the administration was taken over by the Panamanian Panama Canal Authority.

Since 2007 to 2016, a parallel even larger expansion was created, for ships of superlatives (Neopanamax class) and better water management.