Hub of Central America

Trip Start Nov 16, 2009
Trip End Apr 16, 2010

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Flag of Panama  ,
Thursday, April 15, 2010

Our last "port of call" is Panama City, with its famous Canal (entry April 7), history and present day as a major economic and banking power in the Americans. 

First stop was Panama La Vieja (Old Panama) which is the name used for the Monumental Historic Complex of the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific coast of the Americas by Pedro Arias de Avila on 15 August 1519. This city was the starting point of the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru (1532). As you can see from my pictures, the buildings were not maintained in the past and therefore not much is left of the history.
Next we visited Casco Antiguo which was designated a World Heritage Site (yes, another WHS on our Odyssey). After the city of La Vieja was destroyed by diseases and pirate attacks, the last and most remembered one by the famous pirate "Henry Morgan", the city moved into a rocky peninsula that was both healthier and easier to defend. In 1673 they founded the second city more commonly, Casco Viejo. Currently under a revitalization process, the city is a mix of different architectural styles, which reflects the cultural diversity of the country. Caribbean, Republican, Art Deco, French and Colonial mix in a site of less than 800 buildings.

 The only example of true urban revitalization in the Panama, Casco Viejo is already the second most visited tourist destination in Panama City, second only to the Panama Canal. Both government and private sectors are actively participating not only in the restoration of the architectural patrimony but also of the human patrimony, investing in cultural industries and local entrepreneurship. From our tour around the city much work still needs to be done. Some people have already invested a great amount in fixing up the old buildings, but it will take another 5-10 years to become a world class historical city.
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