Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Panama - Casco Viejo

October and November have been crazy busy travel-wise. Which is fantastic, because by the end of October I got to visit a place I had never been to – Panama!

It was a very short visit for a regional workshop. But I got a good look at this curious place! With gorgeous skies on arrival, by the way...

Anyhow, though my hotel was in the new part of town, I immediately took a cab to head to what is known as Casco Viejo, the old hull. This is not the oldest part of Panama, by the way – I'll write about that on my next post. No, this is where the capital of Panama was moved to in 1673 after captain Captain Henry Morgan destroyed the original capital.

It is somewhat small, but charming, with plenty of small streets and – now mostly renovated – old buildings and squares. There's Plaza Bolívar, with a monument to Simón Bolívar, a character that actively helped at least six American countries to achieve independence from Spain. In that same square there's also the Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís and the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

I liked the low traditional buildings, their balconies, the narrow streets and the surprise views of the ocean and the new city here and there...

I visited one of their more famous sites, the Convento de la Compañía de Jesús, renowned for a gravity-defying almost flat arch, know as "arco chato". And then the Iglesia de San José, from around 1671, as well. No wonder the whole of Casco Viejo is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

But I think what I enjoyed the most on this exceedingly short glimpse was the views of the rows of houses and buildings, by the sea. Especially the contrast against the new part of Panama. Two completely different worlds, side by side.

And yet, with what little time I had, this is not all I saw... This was just the old part, but then there's the super old one, and the super new one!

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