Panama City, Panama is an old city that hasn’t lost its European and Latin roots. Old Town Panama City is built right on and within the ruins of Old Panama, where you can experience delights both old and new right in the heart of this bustling city.

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History of Old Panama

What is now Panama City was originally founded back in 1519 by Pedrarias Dávila. Those first buildings’ original foundations are still a stop on the tourist circuit today. There are even traces of the very first inhabitants of the area before European explorers landed there.

Panama City was a valuable and populous stop on the trade and supply routes the Spanish created during their occupation of the area starting in the 16th century. It is believed at least 10,000 people lived there as early as the late 16th century and has been growing steadily ever since, except for a major fire that destroyed most of the buildings in 1671 during a siege laid on the city by the English pirate Henry Morgan. The city was rebuilt in 1673, but much of the original stonework remains, albeit a bit scorched.

Exploring Old Town Panama City: Uncovering the Ruins

There is much to do in Old Town Panama City. When you visit, you’ll find yourself surrounded by ancient architecture and new businesses sprouting up to support the many visitors who find themselves enraptured by the ruins and all the new offerings this area of the city has.

Sign up for a guided tour of Panama City Old Town to find out everything you could ever know about how the city originally grew up around Old Town and spread out to the bustling metropolis you find today. You can also give yourself a tour, wandering through the shops and old stone buildings to points of curiosity. There are plenty of activities in this part of town.

forts old panama

Of course, you should visit the Museo del Canal, the Panama Canal Museum, to learn about this feat of modern engineering and architecture. But Old Town Panama City is dominated by the Metropolitan Cathedral and the main square, Plaza Mayor, where you can find not only some of the best restaurants and bars in town, but also a slice of history. Be sure to visit the Arco Chato, the remains of the church built by Dominican Friars hundreds of years ago, an architectural feat in its own right.

After all this sightseeing, all you have to do is follow your nose to one of the excellent restaurants filling the area with delicious smells in Old Town Panama City.

Architectural Gems and Iconic Structures

In a way, all of Old Town Panama City is an architectural gem and iconic structure. There are of course many specific buildings you must see in the area if you visit. Panama City Old Town has been a Historical Site for several decades, and you can see vestiges of 19th, 20th, and even earlier centuries architecture throughout this part of the city.

Make sure you visit the Salon de Bolivar, the only surviving portion of the San Francisco Convent, originally built in the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll see some impressive early American architecture here and be able to tour what is left of the convent.

From there, be sure to check out these famous buildings, all lending their own special history and beauty to this beautiful, historic district:

  • Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus
  • Plaza Tomas Herrera
  • Casa Gongora
  • Iglesia Santa Ana Panama
  • Mezquita de Colon
  • Corazon Del Cielo
views from old panama

Throughout the area, you’ll see many buildings that have been restored or rebuilt out of the same material that the original structures were built in. Many of these structures are no multi-family homes and churches, which dot the area. Old Town Panama City is full of these kinds of examples of beautiful architecture and restoration.

Make Old Town Panama City Your Next Destination

Old Town Panama City has a little something for everyone who visits. From beautiful, old architecture and a fascinating history to the modern comforts of new restaurants, bars, shops, and more, you can experience the pleasures of the old times and the now all right here.

Learn more about the amazing Panama Canal and the fascinating history of the longest continuously occupied city in Central America. Old Town Panama City is a blend of different architecture from different cultures and histories, along with a vibrant setting for the new and up-and-coming players of Panama and the surrounding area. Be sure to immerse yourself in this ever-shifting, dynamic culture when you visit Panama City, whether for the long-term or a quick vacation. No matter what, you’ll always be impressed with what you see and experience here in Old Town Panama City and the rest of Panama.