Do you know Casco Antiguo?

Also known as Colonial Panama, Casco Antiguo is the historic center of the capital.  It is a charming district of narrow streets overlooked by flower-bedecked balconies of two or three-story houses.  At its tip lies the French Plaza, a monument to the French builders of the Panama Canal, and the French Embassy.  On the walkway around the monument, visitors have a fine view of the Amador Causeway, the Biodiversity Museum, the Bridge of the Americans and the skyscraper skyline of Panama City to the east.  A plaque on the walkway commemorates the firing of cannon shots to drive away a Colombian warship and consolidate Panama’s independence from Colombia in 1903.  To one side of the monument is an old Spanish structure called Las Bovedas, now home to an art gallery and French restaurant.

Strolling about this 337-year-old neighborhood, enjoy both history and contemporary local culture- every corner has something of historical significance or local color. Another attraction is the sweeping ocean views of Panama Bay’s modern skyscraper skyline by day and night, the Amador Causeway islands and the ship-busy entrance to the Panama Canal.”

“Panamanian sounds and smells that fill the Casco Viejo air are part of that local color. Street peddlers cry out ‘bollo‘ as they sell soft corn wrapped up in corn leaves, a Panamanian favorite. At Panama’s “White House” the presidential honor guard’s cheerful cadence perform early morning calisthenics, local kids play basketball in a community court, Kuna Indians sell colorful molas in the Plazas as lovers stroll hand in hand catching glimpses of the distant Canal, old-timers settle on park benches as their grandchildren play soccer around groups of passing tourists. The best way to experience Casco Viejo is to stay in a hotel in one of the beautifully restored buildings. This is the place to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean free from Panama City’s sprawl and traffic, yet the business district is a short 10 minutes away.”

Some excellent museums, art craft shops, galleries, and boutiques are found in Casco Viejo, including the Canal Museum, which traces Panama’s history as the route connecting Atlantic and Pacific from pre-Hispanic to modern times.  Next door is the old cathedral that is under major renovation, with gleaming spires inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  Neary is a small museum dedicated to religious art found in the old Santo Domingo monastery, where visitors will also see the famous Flat Arch, which reportedly helped convince engineers that Panama was earthquake safe country.  You can also walk towards the San Jose Cathedral or the beautiful Golden Altar, intricately carved of wood and gilded with gold.  Another building that you should not miss is the Presidential Palace, which can be toured on Sundays.

If you visit Casco Antiguo at night is totally a different vibe, full of cafes, bars, and excellent restaurants.  Don´t miss the opportunity to discover more about Panama’s history and book a biking or walking tour to Casco Viejo with one of our history expert guides.

Panama EcoArt Program

Discover what truly makes Panama so special, its people, land, history and culture. The Panamanian culture is translated through its art. The mola that carefully handcrafted by is Guna (Kuna indians) is a reflection of how unique this culture truly is. During this program you will travel, learn and experience the true Panama, learning in person from the people who call this land bridge their home. You will journey to six of Panama’s provinces to learn from local artisans, while they work on their masterpieces that will be used in local celebrations or could be flown halfway around the globe. This program includes visits to Guna Yala – San Blas Archipelago (molas), Chagres National Park to visit the Embera people (Cocobolo and Tagua –vegetable ivory carvings), Cocle (sombrero pintado – woven hat) and Herrera (ceramics and diablo sucio masks).  This is a complete and fun itinerary that is ideal for those who love Latin American art.  Contact us for a detailed itinerary.

When the artists take the city: Panama’s visual arts awakening

This month of May Panama City is experiencing the first Bienal del Sur, an international art project that aims to stimulate cultural development and promote new trends in the visual arts. Under the slogan “Summoning Worlds” artists from over 160 different countries have taken over the city, transformed public spaces with installations and colors, and invited locals and visitors alike to come and see things a bit differently.

Five hundred years ago, Vasco Núñez de Balboa spied the South Sea and made a discovery for humanity. Likewise, today the founders of this project hope that through the medium of visual art they can create new insights to the world and new spaces to hold encounters for constructive creativity and culture.

The Bienal del Sur is just one of many creative projects happening here these days: The city where the oceans meet is becoming a meeting point for young artists and creative projects, reflecting on the cosmopolitan spirit and intercultural nature of Panama

We at EcoCiruitos have followed this development with much excitement, and are happy to share the creative side of our city with our visitors: Through the new “Panama City and Art tour”. During this tour you will explore the City of Panama, its museum of Contemporary Art, discover examples of art in public spaces and visit a Panamanian Gallery/Art school.

Here you can discover the works of such renowned artists as Achu, who combines his Kuna heritage with contemporary styles.

As he himself explains:

“As a human being of the 21st century with deep roots in Kuna ancestral culture, I integrate symbols from many different communities and realities into my work. My process is one of fusion: I fuse the sacred symbols found in Kuna pictographs, traditional rites and ceremonies with those found in other indigenous
cultures and also in urban culture, recodifying them to create my own visual language… to communicate the chaos and environmental and visual contamination
we face today.”

Your tour will finish with the possibility to express your impressions of Panama City in the way of the artists as you are invited to take a painting class with the experienced instructors and artists of the Huellas Gallery and Painting School.


Articel by Meret Schueschke