Top 10 Things to Do in Casco Viejo

Top 10 Things to Do in Casco Viejo

Ever since the historic district and cultural gem of Panama City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997 by UNESCO, this landmark with preserved and restored architecture has proven to offer more than just history; it is also the perfect place to enjoy many restaurants, lovely cafés, charming terraces, trendy rooftop bars and live music.

Plaza de la Independencia / Plaza Catedral

It is the main square in Casco Viejo, where the country’s separation and independence from Colombia and Spain were celebrated. Historic buildings, such as the cathedral, the Palacio Municipal and the Canal Museum, surround it.

Panama Canal Museum

Once the office space of the French Canal Company, the U.S. Isthmian Canal Commission offices and the main Post Office, this restored building is full of artifacts and information on the planning, construction and present-day operation of one of Panama’s most iconic landmarks.

Palacio de Las Garzas (Presidential Palace)

Built in the 17th century, this building is the official residence of the President and was named after the herons that were brought in 1922 from Darién and given as a gift by the poet Ricardo Miró to the President Belisario Porras. It is closed to the public; however, depending on the guard at the gate, you may be allowed to take a few quick photos of its imposing lobby.

Plaza Herrera

Known for the statue of General Tomás Herrera at its center, this popular plaza is surrounded by terraces, bars and restaurants. Part of the original city wall can be found off the west side of the plaza.

Iglesia San José

It is famous for its Altar de Oro (Golden Altar), which was miraculously saved after the looting of Panamá Viejo. According to the legend, upon hearing of the imminent pirate attack, a priest disguised the altar by painting it black.

Iglesia Santo Domingo & Arco Chato

Built in the 17th century, the church and convent of Santo Domingo were destroyed by a fire in 1756, leaving behind the Flat Arch (Arco Chato) at the entrance until it collapsed in November 2003 from age and neglect. Today, the ruins are being restored and will provide a space for cultural presentations.

Esteban Huertas Promenade

Beginning on one side of the former Club Unión and ending at the Plaza de Francia, this promenade offers a lovely walking scenery in Casco Viejo. You will find the Casa del Soldado (the Spanish Cultural Center), street vendors and a panoramic view of Panama City’s bay, including ships lining up to enter the Panama Canal.

Las Bóvedas

These vaults originally formed part of the fortification wall around Casco Viejo. Surrounding Plaza de Francia, they were restored in 1983 and are now home to art galleries, crafts booths and restaurants.

Plaza de Francia

Dedicated to the French effort to build the Panama Canal, it is famous for its obelisk, marble plaques, the French Embassy, the National Culture Institute and Las Bóvedas.

Teatro Nacional

Built on the site of an 18th century monastery, it was first inaugurated in 1908. During its early years, it enjoyed fame as a glamorous destination for the city’s elite. However, it progressively fell into disrepair and had to be restored twice, first in the 1970s and then in early 2000s. Be sure to take a look at the magnificent ceiling frescos.

Top 10 Things to Do in Casco Viejo

Ever since the historic district and cultural gem of Panama City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997 by UNESCO, this landmark with preserved and restored architecture has proven to offer more than just history; it is also the perfect place to enjoy many restaurants, lovely cafés, charming terraces, trendy rooftop bars and live music.

Plaza de la Independencia / Plaza Catedral

It is the main square in Casco Viejo, where the country’s separation and independence from Colombia and Spain were celebrated. Historic buildings, such as the cathedral, the Palacio Municipal and the Canal Museum, surround it.

Panama Canal Museum

Once the office space of the French Canal Company, the U.S. Isthmian Canal Commission offices and the main Post Office, this restored building is full of artifacts and information on the planning, construction and present-day operation of one of Panama’s most iconic landmarks.

Palacio de Las Garzas (Presidential Palace)

Built in the 17th century, this building is the official residence of the President and was named after the herons that were brought in 1922 from Darién and given as a gift by the poet Ricardo Miró to the President Belisario Porras. It is closed to the public; however, depending on the guard at the gate, you may be allowed to take a few quick photos of its imposing lobby.

Plaza Herrera

Known for the statue of General Tomás Herrera at its center, this popular plaza is surrounded by terraces, bars and restaurants. Part of the original city wall can be found off the west side of the plaza.

Iglesia San José

It is famous for its Altar de Oro (Golden Altar), which was miraculously saved after the looting of Panamá Viejo. According to the legend, upon hearing of the imminent pirate attack, a priest disguised the altar by painting it black.

Iglesia Santo Domingo & Arco Chato

Built in the 17th century, the church and convent of Santo Domingo were destroyed by a fire in 1756, leaving behind the Flat Arch (Arco Chato) at the entrance until it collapsed in November 2003 from age and neglect. Today, the ruins are being restored and will provide a space for cultural presentations.

Esteban Huertas Promenade

Beginning on one side of the former Club Unión and ending at the Plaza de Francia, this promenade offers a lovely walking scenery in Casco Viejo. You will find the Casa del Soldado (the Spanish Cultural Center), street vendors and a panoramic view of Panama City’s bay, including ships lining up to enter the Panama Canal.

Las Bóvedas

These vaults originally formed part of the fortification wall around Casco Viejo. Surrounding Plaza de Francia, they were restored in 1983 and are now home to art galleries, crafts booths and restaurants.

Plaza de Francia

Dedicated to the French effort to build the Panama Canal, it is famous for its obelisk, marble plaques, the French Embassy, the National Culture Institute and Las Bóvedas.

Teatro Nacional

Built on the site of an 18th century monastery, it was first inaugurated in 1908. During its early years, it enjoyed fame as a glamorous destination for the city’s elite. However, it progressively fell into disrepair and had to be restored twice, first in the 1970s and then in early 2000s. Be sure to take a look at the magnificent ceiling frescos.