Panama City

The city of about 700 000 inhabitants offers its visitors an exciting day- and nightlife! Shopping, for a start: products from all over the world are sold, many at duty-free prices. Furthermore, there are several tours around the city, the most important one to the Canal. Many say you have not been to Panama City without having visited the Canal.

A typical tour will take you to the ruins of Old Panama, Colonial Panama (El Casco Viejo) and the modern sections. Another interesting place to see is the REPROSA factory, where you see how the gold and silver treasures of Panama are made by basically the same technique as the ancient goldsmiths.

Speaking of ancient times, the first governor sent from Spain, Pedro Arias Dávila, founded what is now Old Panama. In those times the city was growing fast, until it attracted the attention of the English Pirate Henry Morgan. When he was marching into Old Panama, the Spaniards moved to Casco Viejo, to defend the City. Luckily the walls resisted and the Spanish could not be conquered.

Since the canal zone has been handed back to Panama, lots of shopping malls have spread throughout the city. So guys, if you want to hang out in the casino for a while, maybe watching your favourite football team play, be sure your girl will be busy all afternoon! But not just for sports games, casinos are a good place to hang out in the night. You can also go to one of the several discotheques, which offer a big variety of music, something for every taste.

Another great day and night activity is to visit the causeway. It is great to do some exercise in the day, renting bycicles and riding them along the coast. You can find several restaurants there aswell. It is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the view of the city!

A place to stay is the least thing to worry about- in Panama City you can find everything from cheap hostels to 5-star hotels!

Casco Antiguo

Casco Antiguo is Panama City`s old quarter and definitely worth to visit if you like to see and learn a bit of history! And even if not, it is still nice to look at ;) !
Thanks to its defensible walls, first built in 1673, the english pirate Henry Morgan was not able to plunder the city. After having been declared a World Heritage Site, many buildings have been restored, which kept the colonial atmosphere in this part of Panama City. A lot of foreigners and Panamenians moved into the quite expensive houses and apartments.

If you plan to stay for a short time, you can choose from a variety of hotels and hostels. After a tour through all the historical buildings (further down i will mention a couple of them) you can eat in one of the restaurants, bakeries or hang out in a coffee shop, a wine bar or in of of the pubs. While enjoying your drink (or coffee) it is quite possible that you get to listen to one of the many life bands. The quarter also hosts the famous annual jazz festival.

Some of the many historical places:
The residential palace - cituated along the waterfront, overlooking Panama Bay. But the president does not actually live here anymore.
Plaza de la Independecia - this was where the people declared their intention to seperate from colombia in 1903.
Plaza Bolivar - named after the south american leader Simon Bolivar, el liberador. He was mostly responsible for Panamas independence from Spain.

The Panama Canal - An engeneering wonder!

If you ask people in a foreign country what they know about Panama, the majority will answer you something like: isn`t that where the canal is? So who would not, traveling in Panama City, visit this place?

It is amazing to see the huge container and cruise ships squeeze through the locks with only a couple of centimeters of space on each side! To ensure future competitiveness it is currently under construction to make it wider.

Now a bit of history: In 1880 the French started a canal but were forced to give it up 20 years later due to jungle diseases and finacial problems. In 1903, when Panama became an independent country, the USA signed a treaty with the Panamenian government, including the construction of a canal. On August 15th 1914, a US ship made the first transit. Much later, in 1979, the canal was handed back to the Panamenian government, due to contracts signed by Omar Torrijos Herrera and Jimmy Carter!
Some other facts that are interesting to know:
  • yearly there are more than 13056 ships passing the canal
  • coming from more than 70 different countries around the world
  • the average toll for a ship to pass the is about 100 thousand dollars

Interested to see it with your own eyes? Just ask for tours to the Miraflores Locks!

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