Mission: VIEJO – Can Panama City’s Old Town Survive Its Own Success?

 

 

The Casco Viejo of Panama appears to be a contrast of the old and the new, development and slums.  When I visited the area in 2005, it was in sharp contrast to the rest of the city.  It was quiet, no traffic and beautifully remodeled apartments and residences contrasting with those abandoned and falling apart.  But the brick streets were still there as I remembered them from my youth.  A friend sent me a short article on this sublet written by Fred A. Bernstein and with photos by David Leventi.  The article was on a page torn from a magazine, but I found no indication as from what magazine it came.  At any rate, what I saw in 2005 continues to be the norm for the area . . . contrast. I will quote a few lines from the article:

 

The area represents . . . “the storied past and seedy present of Casco Viejo, a neighborhood Panamanians call Casco and view as both a shrine and slum.  These days, empty lots once home to squatters and stray dogs are giving way to valet parking, part of a process that may make the neighborhood more popular, if less compelling.”

 

A Manhattan businessman, Matthew Blesso opened the Tantalo hotel in the neighborhood and said, “To me, Casco is cool right now.”  When he went looking for property in Panama a few years ago, he started by looking around the new Panama.  He found it “Banal and soulless”

 

“But on his third day in Panama, Blesso saw Casco and fell in love with it.  Blesso’s 12-room hotel has an elaborate roof deck and graffiti-style murals reminiscent of his apartment in New York.  Night after night, Tantalo’s rooftop bar is packed with 20-something Panamanians, drinking until the early morning.”

 

“K.C. Hardin fell for Casco even harder.  A new York lawyer, Hardin came to Panama in 2003 to surf and never really left. Hardin’s company has opened two hotel in the district – Canal House, in 2007, and Las Clementinas, in 2010 – and next spring will open its biggest project to date: the America Trade Hotel, which will offer 50 rooms, a rooftop pool and, next door in an old bank building, a ballroom.”

 

Threatening Casco is the extension of a highway called La Cinta Costera which will surround Casco and isolate it from the ocean.  “If the extension to the highway is built, Unesco could withdraw the neighborhood’s World Heritage status, bestowed in 1997.”

 

“Though foreigners tend to be entranced – the wide variety of architectural styles, reflecting periods of prosperity over four centuries, make it more interesting than purely colonial outposts like Cartagena, Colombia, or Granada, Nicaragua, and almost as enticing as Havana – Panamanians are often surprised  that travelers are drawn to the area. Matt Landau, who co-owns a hotel in Casco called Los Cuatro Tulipanes, says that Panamanians tend to think of Casco as a place you visit for a few hours to look around, not where you spend your evenings.”

 

Since 2002, when some of the hotels and restaurants opened in Casco, travel magazines have been giving it a lot of publicity.  It is hoped that the Panamanian government will not wrap it up in concrete with the Cinta Costera highway.

 

Source: Luis Celerier

 

For interesting and educating tours through Casco Viejo, feel free to contact EcoCircuitos at info@ecocircuitos.com to plan your adventure for you.

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New Hotel in Casco Viejo

Recently  in Casco Antiguo, a stylish new hotel open it doors:. Casa del Horno, a boutique hotel located on Avenida B in the Colonial District in Panama City.

Casa del Horno (The Oven House) is a majestic colonial property built by the French colony in the 1850s that served as a bakery. The building has been renovated with modern elements and keeping the original colonial architecture.

Casa del Horno is a sweet haven for those who love art, wine and simple pleasures.  Built with Calicanto stonewalls and finished with delicate wooden details, each of the 8 suite is equipped with state of the art bathrooms, imported Italian kitchens, top of the line wine fridges, LCD TVs with Satellite, Sony IPod docks and L’Occitane bathroom amenities, differencing each other only by size and specific amenities.

This fantastic new hotel is a jewel in Casco Viejo and .

Tropical Christmas

EcoCircuitos Panama is more than pleased to invite you to enjoy Christmas Holidays in our unique country. Get to know our history and the Panama Canal; have a cultural encounter and get to know the Tropical Rainforest during Christmas time!!!

Day 1, December 20, Welcome to Panama At the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos Representative will be waiting for you at the Tocumen International Airport for transfer to the Hotel. Once arrival, please check in and overnight at Country Inn Dorado, Junior Suite Room.

Day 2, December 21, Historical Tour, Panama La Vieja & Casco Antiguo
Breakfast at the hotel – Depart from the hotel to visit Panama Viejo, the first city founded in the isthmus by Spanish conquerors at the beginning of colonization. The remaining ruins are the ones left by Pirate Henry Morgan, who sacked the town in 1671. We will then head to the second colonial city of Panama, Casco Viejo, built in 1673 and will walk around the French Plaza and its monuments. The architecture of this area is exquisite including French, Italian and Spanish styles. Includes: transportation, bilingual guide, entrance fee to Panama La Vieja Visitor Center and Tower Duration: 3 – 4 hours – Available from Tuesday to Sunday. Departure time: 9:00 AM or 1:00 PM

Day 3, December 22 The Caribbean Side; the Kuna Kingdom an Indigenous Encounter – Today very early in the morning you will be transferred your hotel in Panama City to Albrook Domestic Airport to take your flight to San Blas. Once arrival, you will be met by a representative from the lodge for your boat transfer to the lodge. Check-in and overnight at Dolphin Lodge, Uaguinega. Standard Room 1 Day tour included to a nearby island for beachcombing or snorkeling (gear available for rental). All meals included. No drinks or water included.

Day 4, December 23, San Blas Islands, Dolphin Lodge – Days to enjoy at your leisure on the island, taking it easy or visit with the local Kuna Community. One day tour is included. 1 Day tour included to a nearby island for beachcombing or snorkeling (gear available for rental). All meals included No drinks or water included.

Day 5, December 24, The Rainforest Experience, Gamboa Rainforest Resort At the appropriate time, transfer to the local airstrip for your return flight to Panama City. Once arrival, transfer to the local airstrip for your return flight to Panama City. At the appropriate time, transfer to the local airstrip for your return flight to Panama City. Check-in time is at 3.00PM. Arrival to Gamboa Rainforest Resort; where you will stay for the next 2 nights in One Standard Room. This resort features Gatun Lake tours, an aerial tram ride through the forest canopy, animal exhibitions and more.

Day 6, December 25, Gamboa Rainforest Resort – Free day Breakfast at the hotel Day to enjoy at your leisure exploring the area or relaxing in the hotel’s spa, pool or on Gatun Lake. Optional tours include: Arial tram, night tours, birding tours, boat tours, kayaking, fishing.

Day 7, December 26, Departure Panama- Breakfast at the hotel At the appropriate time the tourists will be transferred to the Tocumen International Airport for their flight back home. They will arrive to the airport approximately 2 hours before their departure time. (Breakfast)

Price per person – Double occupancy $ 1,025.00 – minimum 4 pax ***Prices are subject to 5% ITBM government taxes and banking fees

The program includes: – Meet and greet at the international airport – 6 nights of lodging + taxes – Domestic flights (as mentioned above) – Entrance fees to the attractions as mentioned above – Private transportation with a/c throughout the tour – Meals as specified each day: B=breakfast, L=lunch or D=dinner – Information kit – Lodging taxes

The program does not include: – Optional activities – International airfare and taxes – Departure taxes ($20.00 per person for Panama and $26.00 for Costa Rica) – Meals not specified in the itinerary – Personal equipment – Extras in hotels (laundry, phone calls, room service, etc.)