Panama was the last destination of my Central American trip, and I decided to stay in the city for 3 days, hoping it will be surprisingly beautiful and my expectations were rewarded. So, 5 things to visit:
Panama was built in 1521 as the first European settlement to the Pacific Ocean. It flourished beautifully arriving to have about 10.000 inhabitants till unfortunately the pirate Henry Morgan destroyed it. There are some remaining beautiful ruins, the church tower where you can go up to see the panorama of the ruins till to the new modern buildings that are foreseen on the horizon. The ruins are in a park with luxuriant vegetation.
The new old city, called Casco Viejo it was built after 1672 by Antonio Fernández de Córdoba, as a new settlement. I think it is the most eclectic city in the Americas with a lot of very beautiful buildings starting with Spanish colonial, Spanish baroque, neoclassical, neo baroque, neo gothic, art nouveau and art deco architecture. You have the feeling you are somewhere in Europe to the Mediterranean Sea.
Nice restaurants, bars and shops are making you to spend a unique moment in that area. You’ll find nice squares like Plaza de la Independencia, Plaza Bolívar, Plaza de Francia and Plaza Herrera.
Beautiful churches as the Metropolitan Cathedral, Church and Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi, Church of La Merced are located here as well, but you can find nice ruins of the former churches Convent of Santo Domingo or the church of the Society of Jesus.
Take a walk on the old cobblestone streets and you’ll see the Panama Canal Museum, Palacio National, the National Theatre, Simon Bolivar Palace or Palacio de las Garzas. The area has exquisite hotels wonderful restored with a lot of attention to the details. Together with Panama Viejo it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997.
The Panama Canal
The most famous place in this country, it is the Panama Canal, one of the longest canal of the world, built after huge efforts. The canal it is an artificial 77 km waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean and cuts across the Isthmus of Panama. Worth to visit is the Canal Museum. After visiting the museum you can see a short film where it is shown how do they built the canal and about the history of that place. If you are lucky, you can see from the panoramic terrace a nave going through the Miraflores locks.
The Modern City
Visiting the new city you can see the wonderful architecture and the Balboa Boulevard along the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most impressive area of the city and the good weather, is helping a lot.
There are a lot of beautiful example of modern architecture. I recommend the spiral skyscraper F&F Tower, ranking it 7th out of the 10 Emporis Skyscraper Award winners for its architectural excellence regarding the design of building and its functionality. You can find beautiful international stores and a lot of good restaurants.
Enjoy the Sunset.
The last thing I recommend is to try to find a skyscraper with a panorama terrace to see the sunset over the city and the ocean. I recommend Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis. Take the lift to the 62nd floor and be there after 5 pm when the sun goes down. The golden hour is the sweetest moment of the day, the sun’s gentle light is caressing the skyscraper’s windows. You can see the red sky reflected in the ocean. The Balboa Boulevard with the people walking or jogging along the ocean front. Take a deep breath and enjoy the happy moment you are just living.