"Panama la Vieja", Old Panama City

Recently, the Panamanian Tourism Authority (ATP from its Spanish name, Autoridad de Turismo de Panamá), revealed the names of the "10 Wonders of Panama": Bayano Lake, Panamá La Vieja, Church of San Francisco de la Montaña in Veraguas, Fort San Lorenzo in Colón, Isla Pájaros in Bocas del Toro, los Cangilones de Gualaca in Chiriquí, Bahía Piña in Darien, Santiago Apostol Basilica in Natá de los Caballeros, Church of Santa Librada in Los Santos and the Church of Santo Domingo in Herrera.

In this article, we are going to refer you briefly to one of them, Panamá La Vieja; at the same time, we are leaving you with a couple of 360 degree panoramas, that we took on our last visit to Panama.

Panama City was founded on August 15, 1519 by Pedro Arias de Avila, known as Pedrarias Dávila.

Historically, Panama stands out as a hub for commercial activity and it has been like this since the days of the Spanish Colonies. Per "Panama City" in Wikipedia, "This city was the starting point of the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru (1532). It also was a stopover point of one of the most important trade routes in the history of the American continent leading to the famous fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo where most of the gold and silver that Spain took from the Americas passed through".

For those of you familiar with Panama's economic activity, it is easy to recognize how the "transit hub" or "bridging" role, remains a key factor in Panama's economy.

The name of "Panamá la Vieja" or Old Panama, may give you the key of what were the fortunes of this city, which suffered fires, threats from indians and pirates, an earthquake, and finally the major attack from Henry Morgan, a british pirate who attacked and plundered the city after his arrival January 28, 1671. As consequence of the series of events that took place during that attack, the city was destroyed and the ruins of the Old Panama, are what we have left of that city.

Afterwards, the city was rebuilt in what is known today as the "Casco Antiguo".

The photos that we have included in this article were taken in that Old Panama. We took them last January, while vacationing in Panama and want to recognize the good job that has been done by the "Old Panama Foundation" (Patronato Panamá Viejo).

Prior to this visit, the last time that we went to this site was 2003. We could not enter the tower, as it was undergoing restoration. However on our last trip, we were able to go all the way to the top of the tower, which has been restored. There is now a fence around the ruins and it is evident that there is somebody taking care of the complex.

There is still work to be done, but Panamanians must remember that we all have to take care of our heritage and our history. Foundations can not do an adequate job without their governments and citizens support.

We hope you enjoy the photos and for those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit recently "Panama La Vieja", we encourage you to go and enjoy the place. There is something enlighting about stepping on such an important historical site, going back in time and imagining what must have been their culture. Then from the top of the tower, knowing how far we have come and we ask ourselves, what do we want for Panama's future?

Clotilde Castillo June 2009

Para leer este articulo en español visita PanamaMio.com