Panamaniacs! – Part Two

Days: 203-205

Total distance travelled: 40,494.2 kilometres (25,151.68 miles)

The most obvious destination when we though of Panama City was that most famous of canals, but we’ll cover our experiences there soon.

Next on our agenda of exploration was part 2 of the Panama City UNESCO experience, Panama Viejo.

Sitting approximately 10 kilometres distant of our Casco Viejo base, Panama Viejo is the original Panama City, before its 1671 sacking and razing by Welsh pirate, Henry Morgan, so sounded like a fascinating destination.

As part of our now usual crazy form, we also decided that it would be a sound idea to walk it.

Upon departure, this didn’t seem so bad, as cloud cover that lingered overhead protected us from the heat of the suns rays… but that was never going to last.

It was in truth, and incredibly long walk, but we did it, a ruined fortification and an old stone bridge signs that we had finally (about 2 hours later) made it to Panama Viejo.

We were by now hot, but not bothered enough for it to be too much for us, so we dove right in and began to explore what was once, the entirety of Panama City.

In truth, a lot of the ruins really aren’t much to see, but it is as much about the stories that accompany the site that make it truly worthwhile.

And that isn’t also to say that there is nothing worth seeing!

One of the better preserved/restored structures is this old convent

One of the better preserved/restored structures is this old convent

Closer to the heart of the old city, some of the structures are in slightly better shape, a combination of sturdier stone construction, and also some thoughtful restoration efforts meaning that some of the buildings do at least still retain some of their shape.

The best of these is probably the cathedral, the tower of which you are allowed to climb, and which offers some great views over the site, towards the city, and also over the nearby water (or mudflats as they were during our time there).

Very little solid remains of the former city

Very little in the way of substantial construction remains of the former city

With our explorations complete, we realised how ravenous we both were, but fortunately just outside the site we found a local chicken place where we picked a delicious feed of Pollo Asado which certainly gave us a new lease of life!

Our return journey at least was made shorter, as we took advantage of our new found local knowledge and cut through a grand mall, which in turn cut 15 minutes out of our trip, and also took some time to see the world (in the form of a giant mosaic globe which sat outside the ATLAPA convention centre).

Nothing like a good mosaic!

Finding our way home outside the Centro de Convenciones ATLAPA building

Finding our way home outside the Centro de Convenciones ATLAPA building

Our visit to Panama Viejo also gave us a bit more context for one of the churches which sits within the Casco Viejo district.

Incredibly, about 340 years ago (just after the sacking of the city, and the new city was relocated to Casco Viejo) the main facade of one of convents remained in such good condition, it was dismantled, brick by brick and used as the frontage for a new church.

This explained to us such an odd look as you can see below!

The facade of this church, originally of the Convento de Merced in Panama Viejo

The facade of this church, originally of the Convento de Merced in Panama Viejo

Sadly one of days was wasted by rain and an unfortunate excursion out to the causeway where it is reputed great views of the city can be found.

Normally, that is possibly so, however combine this with a hazy (and eventually wet) day as well as the fact the an incredible number of temporary solid fences have been erected to hide any view, and we didn’t really walk away from there thinking much of it at all.

An excursion over to the Caribbean coast to visit Portobelo was much more fun (I’ll post about it separately), however on our return back to the big city, we had the pleasure of company in the form of 2 new friends, Ron & Roshelle, an American couple researching possible locations for a sea-change and eventual retirement.

Dining on the rooftop of a Mexican rooftop (write on the edge of Casco Viejo) certainly didn’t sound bad, and upon seeing the views, looked even better!

That stunning skyline at night

That stunning skyline at night

It was certainly one of our better end of week moments before our time to journey onwards to Colombia.

Great food with new friends…



* Apparently there is an entrance fee to enter Panama Viejo, however there was nobody selling or asking to check our tickets when we arrived, so we enjoyed the experience gratis!

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One Response to Panamaniacs! – Part Two

  1. Sandrine says:

    I’ve never been there but a friend of mine told me about Panama, its french and spanish architecture. Your pictures remind me the historical side of this city.

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