Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 12, 2018

Amazing Panama City

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Our armchair travels have taken us to Panama which is the country on the isthmus that links Central and South America. The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of human engineering and links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

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Our first stop is Panama City, the capital of Panama. It is a modern city that has been framed by the Pacific Ocean and the Panama Canal.

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BioMuseo this fascinating museum was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. It is an impressive sight with crumpled multicolor forms. There are great exhibits. The permanent exhibition is Panama: Bridge of Life. Eight galleries tell visitors about the origin of the Panamanian isthmus and its huge impact on the planet’s biodiversity. The museum is on the Causeway. Audio guides come in five languages.

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Museo de Arte Contemporaneo is a privately owned museum featuring a great collection of Panamanian art. Artwork by Latin American artists and at times a temporary exhibition featuring a foreign or national artist.

Panama Viejo was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Avila. It was the first European settlement along the Pacific. It flourished for 150 years until Captain Henry Morgan sacked the city. Today much of the old city lies buried under a poor residential neighborhood but the ruins are worth seeing.

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In the old days, those who were in power resided at the Casa Reales or Royal Houses. This complex is ringed by timber ramparts and separated from the city proper by a moat. Within the complex were the customs house, the royal treasury, a prison and the governor’s house. Now only scattered walls remain of these structures.

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The Cathedral of Our Lady of Asunción was built between 1619 and 1626 and it’s the best-preserved building of the ruins. It was designed with two side chapels to give the cathedral a cross-like shape. Since the facade is gone only the walls now remain.

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To the north of the cathedral, you can see the massive ruins of Casa Alarcon, the town’s best-preserved and largest known private residence dating back to the 1640s.

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The best-preserved church here is the Church and Convent of St. Dominic.

 Also visible are the ruins of the Iglesia y Convento de la Compania de Jesus.

Other ruins include the Hospital de San Juan de Dios, the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, and the Iglesia y Convento de La Merced.

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You will also see the Puente del Matadero or Bridge of the Slaughterhouse. This is an over-restored stone bridge.

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A more significant bridge is the Puente del Rey built in 1627 and has become a landmark. It well could be the oldest standing bridge in the Americas.

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Museo del Canal Interoceanico this museum has found its home in a building that once served as the headquarters for the original French canal company. It is more commonly referred to as The Panama Canal Museum and offers impressive exhibits on the famous waterway. The signs are in Spanish but English-speaking guides and audio tours are available.

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Parque Natural Metropolitano is a lovely park that sits on a hill north of downtown. It has vast expanses of tropical semi-deciduous forest. It is a great way to escape from the city. There are two main walking trails, the Nature Trail and the Titi Monkey Trail and they join to form one long loop. On the loop, a 150m high lookout offers fantastic views of Panama City, the bay, and the canal.

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Mammals you’ll encounter in the park include titi monkeys, anteaters, sloths and white-tailed deer. Among reptiles are iguanas, turtles, and tortoises. Over 250 bird species make their home here. In the Rio Curundu that runs along the eastern side of the park are fish and shrimp.

The park was the site of an important battle during the U.S. invasion to oust Manuel Noriega and the concrete structures just past the entrance are of historical significance. These were used during WW II as a testing and assembly plant for aircraft engines.

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A crane was set up in the park by an international team of scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute or STRI to study forest canopy, which is home to a complete ecosystem 30m to 50m above the ground. Now visitors can go up on the crane to get a completely different view of the rainforest.

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Centro Natural Punta Culebra is an informative marine museum that features two small aquariums and a nature trail leading through a dry forest with sloths and iguanas. There are signs in English and Spanish.

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One aquarium has fish from the Pacific and the other from the Caribbean. In a small six-sided building are exhibits on the history of Panama’s indigenous cultures. On the outside are large illustrations of vessels that let visitors look through a telescope and identify the types of ships waiting to transit the canal.

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Panama Canal Murals these murals by notable artist William B. Van Ingen depict the story of the monumental efforts to build the Panama Canal. You can find them in the Panama Canal Administration Building. These paintings have the distinction of being the largest group of murals by an American artist on display outside of the U.S.

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The white-domed Baha’i House of Worship is the mother temple for all of Latin America. It sits on the crest of a hill on the northeastern outskirts of the city, looking like a giant egg. On Sunday mornings readings from the Baha’i writings are held in both English and Spanish.

American Trade Hall, Casco Viejo, Panama

American Trade Hall was once the headquarters of the First National City Bank of New York and was the place where much of the financing of the Panama Canal came from. Today it offers cultural events. Visitors admire the Art Deco architecture.

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Plaza de Francia is a lovely plaza that pays homage to the French role in the construction of the canal.

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Its large stone tablets and statues are dedicated to the memory of the 22,000 workers who died trying to build the canal.

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Iglesia de San Jose protects the famous Altar de Oro or Golden Alter. This is the only relic salvaged after Panama Viejo was sacked.

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Teatro Nacional was built in 1907.

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The interior is magnificent with red and gold decorations and a ceiling mural by Roberto Lewis, one of Panama’s finest painters. There is also an impressive chandelier.

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Parque Recreativo Omar is the biggest park in the city. It is usually filled with people walking and jogging and children playing.

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Plaza de la Independencia is the place where Panama declared its independence from Columbia on November 3, 1903.

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Cathedral Metropolitana is the headquarters of the Panama archdiocese.

 

Paseo las Bovedas an esplanade that runs along the top ofpan bovedas the seawall that was built by the Spanish to protect the city.

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From here you can see the Puente de las Americas that arches over the waterway and the ships lining up to enter the canals.

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The Palacio de las Garzas got its name from

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the great white herons that live here. On the upper floor is the residence of the President of Panama.

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Balboa Statue is a well-known landmark in the city. It was sculpted by Miguel Blan and Mariano Benlliure. The statue overlooks the Bahia de Panama. It was a gift from Spain.

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World Trade Center is located in the financial district. The two towers were built in 1996.

 

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/panama/panama-city/attractions/a/poi-sig/358532

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