Also known as Casco Antiguo or Old Town, Casco Viejo is the historic district of Panama City. Among its picturesque brick streets and cozy little squares, you will be able to witness historical vestiges and feel like you are traveling back in time.
In 1976, the district was declared a national monument, and later, in 1997, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site, thanks to its high historical value. Today, the area is known for its vibrant dining and entertainment offerings, as well as many landscapes that look straight out of an old movie.
Today, we share this complete guide so that you know what to see and where to go when you visit Casco Viejo.
The district dates back to 1673, the year in which the city of Panama was transported to this sector. The small town is located on a peninsula surrounded by the Cinta Costera 3, in what is now San Felipe, with abundant rocky reefs around it.
To explore Casco Viejo Panama, we recommend you take a walk through the neighborhood. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama City, in the main square, and discover a bit of the religious history of the country. You can even enter the Church of San José, famous for its large golden altar, and walk through the Plaza Mayor, taking photos of everything you see.
Stroll through the Plaza de Francia, a tribute to the French participation in the construction of the very important Panama Canal. There you will find Las Bóvedas, a monument that, in the past, was used to defend the place from pirate attacks.
You can also go through the Paseo Esteban Huertas and let yourself be impressed by the unforgettable views of the city’s skyline and bay, almost like something out of a postcard.
If you like to visit exhibition halls and places where history is preserved, then you cannot miss out on the museums in Casco Viejo. On the one hand, we have the Canal Museum, for those interested in learning more about one of the most transcendent modern works of engineering, and the Mola Museum, where you will find exhibits on the traditional textile art of Panama, made by the indigenous group the ‘gunas’.
There is also the stone arch at Arco Chato, a church built by Dominican friars in the 17th Century. Its remains are open for touring, and these little pieces of history, that have survived the test of time, are perfect for those who are passionate about photography. Here you can immortalize impressive textures through the lens.
Of course, do not miss visiting the National Theater of Panama, the main stage for the performing arts in the city, with its impressive ceiling frescoes, painted by Roberto Lewis, the well-known Panamanian painter.
Along your walk, you will find multiple arts, craft, and boutique stores, so you can take home a spectacular and very colorful souvenir of your visit.
Casco Viejo is the heart of Panama City gastronomy, with exquisite seafood restaurants near the sea and delicious national and international dishes prepared by chefs of the highest level.
Finally, as the sun goes down, enjoy the night scene and panoramic sunset views from one of the bar terraces. Exquisite cocktails, unforgettable landscapes, and the best company.