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At the crossing point between the Atlantic and Pacific, Panama City promises many surprises for its visitors. Given that the city is a major commercial hub, various cultures continue to blend to form a unique, global destination. At the same time, Panama puts up a different side of its story at the UNSECO listed ruins of Casco Viejo and Panama Viejo. Panama also boasts of rainforests, the Panama Canal. Unfold several sights, restaurants and shopping centres in and around Casco Viejo and Panama Canal.

Panama Viejo

The Panama Viejo is the remaining part of the original Panama City destroyed by Henry Morgan in 1671. Panama Viejo still holds ruins of cathedrals, water installations, residences and the bell tower. Once a royal city that served as an important base for various expeditions in Peru, Panama suffered a major setback when pirates repeatedly sacked it in the 17th century. The Spanish moved the city to a new area in Casco Viejo to defend the city from further attacks. The Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its exceptional colonial architecture and role in linking the Americas with Europe.

Photo Credit: Editorpana / CC BY 3.0

The Old City (Casco Viejo)

Following the destruction of Panama Viejo in 1671, the Spanish rebuilt the city in an area they thought was easier to defend from the arriving ships. The new area was called El Casco Viejo (The Old Helmet), situated at a higher altitude and surrounded by humungous walls to protect it from invaders. The 337-year-old neighbourhood of El Casco Viejo (also known as Casco Antiguo or San Felipe) was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1997, making it one of the fascinating colonial cities in the world.

Casco Viejo is a tourist hotspot filled with hotels, restaurants, pubs and historical sites like La Catedral Metropolitana, El Palacio de las Garzas, Church and Convent of San Francisco de Asís, Church of San José, Church of La Merced, Church and Convent of Santo Domingo: Arco Chato, Palacio Municipal, Palacio Nacional, National Theatre of Panama, Panama Canal Museum, Palacio Bolívar, Góngora House, Plaza Bolívar, Plaza Herrera, Plaza de Francia, Plaza de la Independencia.

Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks Visitors Center)

Visit one of the incredible marvels in engineering - The Panama Canal at the Miraflores Locks Visitors Center. Visitors can get a good view of the transiting vessels through the locks and learn more about the building of the canal through interactive exhibits. Another way to explore Panama Bay is to take a cruise day trip on the Panama Canal.

Photo Credit: Haakon S. Krohn / CC BY-SA 3.0

Calzada de Amador (Amador Causeway)

The Amador Causeway is a breakwater designed to protect the entrance of the Panama Canal and connects the mainland of Panama with four small islands - Flamenco, Perico, Culebra and Naos. Built from leftover rocks from the construction of the Panama Canal, the walkway is an ideal site to engage in some stimulating activities with separate paths for bicycling and jogging. A variety of restaurants dot the Causeway, presenting close views of the Panama Canal and the ocean. Don't forget to take photos of amazing views of the city skyline, Panama Canal, Bridge of the Americas, Balboa Yacht Club and Panama Bay. The main vantage point of Calzada de Amador is the Marine Exhibition Center (Centro de Exhibitions Marinas) on Flamenco Island.

Photo Credit: PD Photo

Parque Nacional Soberanía (Soberania National Park)

The Soberania National Park, located on the banks of the Panama Canal, is an abode of varied birds and animals. Located 45 minutes from Panama City, the tropical forest is a birdwatching observation site with over 400 bird species. The Rainforest Discovery Centre inside the park consists of an observation tower from where one can see the rare species of plants and animals, including white-faced capuchin monkeys and green iguanas.

Photo Credit: Mdf / CC BY-SA 3.0

Iglesia de San José (San José church)

The famous sight at Iglesia de San José (San José church) is the Altar de Oro (Golden Altar), the only thing salvaged when Henry Morgan sacked Panama City. As the legend goes, a priest successfully strived to save the altar by painting it black. The priest even convinced Morgan that another pirate had stolen the altar and he should donate to replace it. Years later, the altar was restored to its present, beautiful state made from carved mahogany and decorated with gold leaf.

Address: Avenida A y, Calle 8a Oeste, Panama City, Panama.

Photo Credit: Editorpana / CC BY-SA 3.0

Bridge of the Americas and Centennial Bridge

The Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas) and the Centennial Bridge are the two major bridges crossing over the Panama Canal, connecting the North and South American mainland and marking the entrance of the Pacific Ocean in the Canal. The Bridge of the Americas built by the United States was the only Pan American highway until the second one - Centennial Bridge, constructed in 2004 to deviate the traffic.

Photo Credit: PD Photo

Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Natural Park)

Metropolitan Natural Park (Parque Natural Metropolitano) is the only rainforest in the world within the city limits of the metropolitan capital. Located in the Ancon district, 10-15 minutes away from Panama City, the 636 acres park is home to many native flora and fauna species, offering a spectacular variety of butterflies, birds, reptiles and mammals. There are several walking trails and observation points from where visitors can admire the islands of Panama and the diversity of the vegetation. The park offers facilities for cultural and outdoor activities, environmental education, scientific investigation, etc.

Address: Avenue Juan Pablo II final, Panama City, Panama.