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Greetings from Panama! My name is Marina Ehrman and I have been a professional tour guide and promoter for Panama Tourism and Travel Company since 2005. I love what I do and am proud to share what my country has to offer. It is filled with endless leisure and commercial attractions, friendly happy people who open their doors to all visitors. Panama is a country of incomparable natural beauty with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful beaches in the Pacific and Caribbean. The tropical climate year round with its diversified flora, fauna and indigenous groups make it one of the most important of Ecotourism in Latin America. I invite you to know our country’s history, culture and also enjoy the cuisine, folklore and traditions that only a place in the world can provide………Panama! Contact me and I’ll organize your visit and will be happy to welcome you in Panama. For more information on Panama, follow my Facebook page and my blog. Visit
Showing posts with label main sites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label main sites. Show all posts

Historical Old Quarter (Casco Antiguo) Tour

Boyaca House and Tiger 's Paw


One of these Panama’s historic icons is the Boyacá House located in the neighborhood of Santa Ana. The Boyacá House took its name from its resemblance to the bow of a ship. Boyacá was a famous Colombian war ship of the time.

Next to this singular wooden house is a segment of the “Tiger’s Paw” bastion, the only place in Casco Antiguo where it’s possible to have an idea of the original appearance and dimensions of the colonial fortifications facing inland. 

The Flat Arch and Santo Domingo Church

The ruins of the church and convent of Santo Domingo is one of the most important monumental colonial Old Town of Panama. The flat arch is part of this church and is known to be a genuine construction of masonry. The Dominican friars began to build their church immediately after the founding of Casco Antiguo on 1678 . But the fire of 1756 burned all the woodwork and the church was not rebuilt - but the flat arch still stood.

The arch "survived" but even more impressive is the fact that this brink arch, spanning a space of 50 feet, 35 feet high at the crown and 25 feet at the spring is so flat that it is said to be an engineering "sport". The Panama Guide by John O. Collins 1912

This architectural triumph has remained intact, resisting earthquakes and time with no support other than the terminal arches. This fact has puzzled practical architects from all over the world. This old arch also played an important part in building the canal, for the reason that it had remained standing all these years was convincing proof that Panama was outside of the earthquake area, and this fact was a deciding factor in the momentous question of building a lock type canal when the question was being debated as to the feasibility of a sea-level or lock type.

Unfortunately, the flat arch collapsed on Friday night, November 7, 2003 but it is has been reconstructed.

Currently the ruins of the old church of Santo Domingo are undergoing construction. They will provide a space for cultural and artistic presentations in the future

The Panama Canal Museum

In a beautifully restored building facing the Plaza de la Catedral is the Panama Canal Museum located. The museum interprets through permanent exhibitions the construction of Panama's canal, its importance as an interoceanic route and the technological and financial advances made around the world as a result of the canal's construction.
Back in the day, the building where the museum is located was built in 1875 to be originally used as a hotel facility equipped with a monumental structure in the French style. It occupies an area of 1 239 square meters and a total building area of over 4 000 square meters, also was the headquarter of the French canal company. Afterwards the U.S. Isthmian Canal Commission had its offices in there and in 1912 it became the main Post Office. Since 1997 it is the Panama Canal Museum.

History Museum of Panama

Located on the second floor of the Municipal Palace building, the Museum of History presents documents, ceramics, furniture, clothing, weapons, paintings, sculptures and pieces of the colonial period, federal, provincial and republican.

Casa Museo Endara

The building was built between 1909 and 1910 and was the residence and studio of Carlos Endara, pioneering photographer in Panama. One of the most reliable restoration of the historic center. The museum was inaugurated in November 2008. It has a valuable selection of photographs and objects from Carlos Endara.

The Fish Market
The fish market is a white and light blue building with the Japanese and Panamanian flags on the top of the building. The Japanese government donated the new fish market installations. The market can't be missed as it is located at the very entrance of Casco Viejo, just off Avenida Balboa.

In what is one of the most impressive displays of local fish and seafood you'll find anything from fresh yellow fin tuna, shrimp & prawns the size of your hand, red snapper (pargo rojo), mahi mahi (dorado), octopus (pulpo) and much more! 

 Simon Bolivar Plaza

Known originally as the Plaza de San Francisco in 1883 the city council devoted the plaza to the Liberator: In the center of the plaza is a monument to the Venezuelan general Simon Bolivar, also known as the "Liberator of Latin America," with decorative friezes marking events of his life and an Andean condor perched above him.

In 1826 (4 years before his death) Bolivar organized an independence meeting in a schoolroom opposite of the park urging the union of all Latin American countries. After struggling against the Spanish domination, he finally succeeded in liberating Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Bolivar is respected as a hero throughout Latin America.

This plaza goes back to the 1756 fire, which destroyed the houses that originally stood on this spot. In 1883 the empty lot was named Bolivar Plaza. A monument commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of Bolivar Amphictyonic Congress was placed in the middle of the plaza in 1926 to coincide with the Pan American Congress of that year.

The Hotel Colombia

The Hotel Colombia, across the street from  Simon Bolivar Plaza it, was one of the country's best when it opened its doors in 1937, but it fell into neglect during the late 20th century until it was renovated in the 1990s and converted to luxury apartments.

French Plaza

Originally Plaza de Francia was the main square of the city. This plaza is located at the very tip of the peninsula and in the center is an obelisk topped by a rooster, a symbol of the French nation. The 12 slabs of marble outline the history of the Panama Canal. All around are busts of Panamanian engineer Pero J. Sosa and French citizens (most of them were from France and French islands such as Guadeloupe or Martinique) who were prominent in the construction of the Canal. This impressive monument honors those 22,000 workers and engineers who died (due to Yellow Fever & Malaria) trying to build the canal.

Besides the Monument, on this plaza you will find French Embassy, Esteban Huertas Promenade, Anita Villalaz Theatre, The National Institute of Culture Building, and a beautiful view of the Panama City Bay, Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas) and the Amador Causeway. You can also find nine restored dungeons on the plaza which were used by the Spanish.

Plaza Herrera

This plaza originated in the wake of the 1781 fire. It was originally used for bull fights and first known as Piazza del Triunfo. Later, in 1887, being renamed for one of Panama's independence heroes: Panamanian general and statesman Tomas Herrera (1804-54) . He led the 1840 movement to make Panama a free state, separate from Colombia. He served as president of Panama during its single year of independence. Herrera later became a high-ranking Colombian official and put down a rebellion in 1854

Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Palacio Bolivar

Salón Bolívar is part of beautifully renovated colonial building Palacio Bolivar on the Plaza. Lucky visitors of the palace that now serves as Panama’s Foreign Ministry offices are afforded a water’s edge view all the way to Panama Viejo. The Salon is now a small museum about Panama’s political history. The documents of the Amphictyonic Congress, organized by Simón Bolívar in 1826 to create a confederation between Columbia, Mexico and Central America and lent by the Brazilian government, are on exhibit here.

Plaza de la Independencia & The Cathedral Metropolitana

The Metropolitan Cathedral is located on Plaza de la Catedral also known as Plaza de la Independencia which is the heart of Casco Viejo with many events through out the year. It is an important landmark of Casco Antiguo. It has been used as a bullring. By 1890 it was transformed into a park with elements of the French influence. In November 1903 Panama declared its independence from Columbia on this Plaza. It was at that moment that the Republic of Panama was born, with much euphoria.

The cathedral reflects best the Spanish presence due to the buildings dimensions and age. The construction of this building lasted over 100 years.

The Palacio Municipal is also located on Plaza de La Independencia. The palace was the former town hall, but was demolished in 1910. A building with an important history: The proclamation of independence from Spain in 1821 and the separation from Columbia in 1903 happened there. Designed by Ruggieri this historic Neo-Renaissance style building with Greek columns and reliefs of mythological inspiration (Mercury and Vulcan) houses the Museum of Panamanian history.

Plaza de Santa Ana

In the mid-nineteenth century this plaza was used as a market. At the end of the century it was a symbol of economic boom and the cosmopolitan character of the city: there were elegant hotels, bazaars offering fine imported goods, and two of the first theaters in Panama located. During the twentieth century it was the scene of major protests and nationalist. Today it is the steet of the pedestrian mall of Avenida Central.

San Jose Church

This church is located right on Avenida A and famous for the distinctive baroque Altar de Oro (The Golden Altar), which was saved from Panama Viejo and transported into the "new" city. The altar was about the only thing of value salvaged after Henry Morgan sacked Panama Viejo. A priest painted the altar black to disguise it.

Almost every weekend weddings are being held there.

Iglesia de la Merced

This church was already built in 1680 after having been moved, stone by stone, from its previous site in Panama Viejo. The facade is still an excellent example of one of Casco Viejo's oldest buildings. The chapel was recently renovated. This church was the one that kept most of the birth & baptism records of Panama City. La Merced Church also houses a small museum.
The Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus

The ruins of the Convent and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, is one of the most striking once in Casco Viejo. Back in 1667 it was the home of the Royal Pontifical University of San Javier. In 1781 the church was destroyed by a fire and further damaged by an earthquake in 1882. Panama's government restored the ruins of the convent in 1983 but it is again undergoing reconstruction.

San Francisco de Asis Church

The old convent of San Francisco next door was abandoned after the fire of the eighteenth century. It was part of important historical events such as the celebration of the Amphictyonic Congress in 1826. This church is one of the original structures of Casco Viejo.

Iglesia San Francisco de Asis is one of the smallest but most ornate churches in Casco Viejo. It sits on Plaza Bolivar across the street from the National Theater. As were many of the buildings in the neighborhood, the church was ravaged by fire in 1737 and again in 1756. Restored in 1998, it is now one of the most striking churches in Panama.
Presidential Palace

Palacio de las Garzas (Heron's Palace), the official name of the presidential palace, named for the numerous herons that inhabit the building. The original building was constructed in 1673.

Palacio de las Garzas is the official residence of the President and bears its name because of resident African herons who were brought as a gift in 1922 after the final renovations were completed under President Belisario Porras. The airy interior courtyard and lobby are remodeled in the style of an Andalusian courtyard and the herons roam the courtyard freely. The palace was originally built in the 17th century by an official of the Spanish crown and used as a customs house for a while. It is closed to the public, but depending on who is standing guard at the gate and what is going on inside, it is not unheard of for a guard to allow you to take a few quick photos of the impressive lobby. 

Casa Gongora

The only example of domestic colonial architecture of the seventeenth century. Built around 1760, it is named after Paul Gongora Caceres, a prominent merchant. It was restored in 1998-99 with local labor and they managed to keep the ancient woodworking (doors, balconies, armor). The building retains its original layout and belongs to the Municipality of Panama. There are regular exhibitions of Panamanian artists.

Club de Clases y Tropas

This is an abandon ruin and General Noriega's favorite hangout. In 1989 it was almost completely destroyed during the invasion.

Both movies, James Bond Quantum Of Solace as well as The Tailor of Panama filmed scenes in this ruin. On the weekends you can find young locals skating here.

Paseo Esteban Huertas

The Paseo Esteban Huertas begins on one side of the former Union Club and ends at Plaza de Francia. It was laid out in 1744-46 on the Chiriqui bastion, a well-preserved part of the colonial city wall. It is a waterfront promenade jutting out into the Pacific. It provides a beautiful view on the Puente de las Americas, the Amador Causeway and all the ships which are lining up to enter the canal.
Las Bovedas

Las Bovedas is located on a part of the walled city built in the eighteenth century (part of Plaza de Francia). This building which consists of a row of vaulted spaces - hence the name bovedas which means vaults - is part of Panama City's colonial fortification. It was restored in 1983. The Vaults have been used as stores, offices, jail, dormitory and restaurants. Today you can find stores and a restaurant there.

Culture National Bureau & Anita Villalaz Theatre

The Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panama (INAC) was formerly the Supreme Court building (till 1996). You might have also seen it in a recent James Bond movie (Quantum of Solace).

You can find a small theater (Anita Villalaz Theatre) inside the building hosting various events through the year like theater performances, concerts and conferences. It has two levels (orchestra and gallery). The maximum capacity are 250 seats.

National Theater

The National Theater was built between 1905 and 1907 (opened in 1908) and its interior has been completely restored. Mostly red and golden decorations, an impressive ceiling - mural showing muses and people who are important for the country - painted by Roberto Lewis (one of Panama's finest painters) and an enormous crystal chandelier can be found inside. This performance center has an outstanding natural acoustics and provides an intimate performance environment and seating for about 800 guests. It presents a comprehensive program of music, dance and theater.

The Emerald Museum

Admission to this museum is free but you must pass through their tempting emerald jewelry store on the way out. The museum is small but gives a good overview of the emerald mining industry and its history. The recreated mine you can enter and explore also makes it fun for kids.

Galería Juan Manuel Cedeno

Juan Manuel Cedeño is one of the most famous Panamanian artists, along with Guillermo Trujillo and Alfredo Sinclair. He is most famous for his drawings and sketches - clean, precise, subtle and moving. This small gallery space, located on Plaza Francia, is run by the National Institute of Culture (INAC) and houses a collection of Panamanian and Latin American artists.

La Iglesia San Felipe Neri

San Felipe de Neri was inaugurated in 1688 and is considered one of the oldest churches in the city. It has been home to many things over time, including a school, a seminary and a center for Catholic Cultural Action, as well as most recently, a home for the elderly. Modern restoration began in 1995.