Narrow streets flanked by mansions and buildings that date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Colorful bougainvillea plants that cascade over antique balconies with wrought iron railings. Open plazas with trendy cafes perfect for relaxing and watching the ebb and flow of the city. It might sound like Europe, but the calls of tropical birds, and permanent summer remind visitors and residents alike that they are in the heart of tropical Central America- in the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City.
The History of Casco Viejo, Panama
Panama City was the first Spanish city built on the Pacific coast of the Americas and was one of Spain’s most important cities during colonial times. Founded in 1519, Panama Viejo eventually became one of the richest cities of the Americas due to its strategic location between North and South America.
Its reputation as a city that housed valuable goods from South America was nevertheless its downfall as this made it a major target of pirate attacks. In 1670, after privateer Henry Morgan sacked and burned the city, the inhabitants of Panama Viejo (old Panama) finally opted for abandoning the original site of Panama City after struggling for over a hundred years against tropical diseases and buccaneers.
As a safeguard against further pirate attacks, they decided to move Panama City a few kilometers to the west in 1673 to a rocky promontory that could be more easily defended. The new site that boasted pleasant sea breezes was officially named San Felipe although it has most frequently been called, “Casco” or “Casco Viejo”.
This new site for the city worked well then and continues to do so during present times. Although the historic neighborhoods of Casco Viejo, Panama became more and more dilapidated during the late twentieth century as wealthy Panamanians moved elsewhere, restoration projects and investment at this UNESCO World Heritage Site have been steadily bringing Casco Viejo back to life to turn it into one of the most interesting, charming, and trendy places to visit and reside in Central America.
Culture in Casco Viejo, Panama
What makes Casco Viejo, Panama so fascinating is its mix of old and new. In this World Heritage Site, you might end up living in a restored two hundred year old building or in a new apartment right next to a structure with French architecture from the nineteenth century.
The diversity of architecture in Casco Viejo is mirrored by its inhabitants. Both the mayor of Panama City and the president of the republic reside in Casco Viejo along with Panamanians from all walks of life and ex-pats from various countries.
Such a variety of people from different backgrounds makes for a rich blend of culture in Casco Viejo that makes visiting and living there anything but boring.
Activities in the vicinity of Casco Viejo, Panama
Visitors to and residents of Casco Viejo, Panama take advantage of the many, good restaurants that have become established in this old part of the city. Seafood in particular is a strong point of this seaside promontory, with some of the best of the sea’s bounty found at the large fish market.
Other things to do in Casco Viejo are predominantly cultural in nature and include visits to the National Theater and sitting down for a coffee or bite to eat near the Plaza de Bolivar or Plaza de Francia.
Types of accommodations available around Casco Viejo, Panama
Much of the lodging in Casco Viejo, Panama fits right in with its colonial charm. Instead of large, brand name hotels, there are smaller, independently own boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels. Luxury apartments can also be rented from Los Quatro Tulipanes and if you want to rent an entire colonial mansion, try the Canal House Panama!
Tourism at Casco Viejo, Panama
Visitors with just one day to visit Casco Viejo should see for themselves why this charming part of the city was declared a World Heritage Site. They can easily do this by walking through the old, narrow streets and visiting such sites as the picturesque Catedral Metropolitana, the Plaza Bolivar and Plaza de la Independencia, strolling near the water along the Paseo de las Bovedas, and visiting the Panamanian History and Panama Canal Museums.
Real estate in Casco Viejo, Panama
How would you like to own property or live in a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Invest in real estate at Casco Viejo, Panama and you will be doing just that! Those lucky few who bought land at Casco Viejo when the neighborhood was in decay have no doubt seen the value of their property jump as high as the skyscrapers going up in other areas of the city.
Once restoration started taking place in Casco Viejo, Panama, the value of real estate began to climb and won’t be going down anytime soon. It’s difficult to believe that investors in real estate at Casco Viejo could go wrong because:
1. After the Panama Canal, this is the most visited site by tourists in Panama.
2. Casco Viejo is a World Heritage Site and is not going to lose this prestigious distinction.
3. Casco Viejo, Panama is becoming a trendy place to live as restoration moves forward.
4. Casco Viejo has been one of the most important areas in Panama City for centuries and will keep being a very important part of the city as long as this strategic, exciting town exists.