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Panama city is both the capital and economic hub of Panama. The contrast between the beautiful modern buildings and the old section, "Casco Viejo", is indicative of the Republic of Panama where both the old and the new give a glimpse of the past with the conveniences offered by this modern country.

Panama has been  in the top 5 places, for 7 years for retirement in the world. Panama has a dense skyline, including mostly apartment buildings, but office complexes and hotels as well. Panama is an important hub for international banking and commerce. It has an advanced communications service, Internet use is widespread; and Panama's Tocumen International Airport offers daily flights to international destinations.
 

Bridge of AmericasPanama Tourism

Panama City is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Panama. It  is located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. Panama is the political and administrative center of the country.






Bridge of Americas in Panama

Panama ViejoCasco Viejo or Casco Antiguo, Panama

Casco Antiguo was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998. After the first settlement was destroyed by diseases and the attacks of pirates, being the last one and most remembered one Henry Morgan, the city moved into a rocky peninsula that was both healthier and easier to defend. In 1673 they founded what today is called officially Casco Antiguo, but is also known as San Felipe, Cathedral and more commonly, Casco Viejo.

Currently under a revitalization process, Casco Antiguo is a mix of different architectural styles, which reflects the cultural diversity of the country. Caribbean, Republican, Art Deco, French and Colonial mix in a site of less than 800 buildings. Most of Panama´s City´s main monuments are located in Casco Antiguo: The Salón Bolivar, the main Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana), the National Theatre (founded in 1908), Las Bovedas Monument, La Iglesia de La Merced, La Iglesia San Felipe Neri, Iglesia San José with its distinctive Golden Altar, which was saved from Panama La Vieja and transported into the new city.

The city has numerous tourist attractions including world-class hotels and restaurants. Particularly interesting for tourists are various sites located in the old quarter, commonly referred to as "Casco Antiguo" .

Las Bóvedas, literally The Vaults, a waterfront promenade jutting out into the Pacific.  The National Institute of Culture Building and across from it, the French Embassy.

French MonumentThe Cathedral on Plaza de la Catedral Teatro Nacional, a recently renovated performance center, with outstanding natural acoustics; It provides an intimate performance environment and seating for about 800 guests.
Museo del Canal Interoceánico.

Casco Viejo, seen from Cerro AncónThe area immediately east of the Pacific entrance of the canal--known as the Amador Causeway is currently being developed as a major tourist center. Currently the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a station and a small museum open to the public at
Culebra Point on the island of Naos. A new museum, The Bridge of Life Museum, is currently under construction on the causeway. The Bridge of Life Museum was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Disney Concert Center in Los Angeles and it is scheduled to be completed in 2009.


Docks in Panama City

History
The city was founded on August 15, 1519, by Pedro Arias de Ávila. Within years of its founding, the city became a launching point for the exploration and conquest of Peru and a transit point for gold and silver headed towards Spain. In 1671, the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan, with the help of a band of 1400 men, attacked and looted the city, which was subsequently destroyed by fire. The ruins of the old city still remain and are a popular tourist attraction known as Panamá la Vieja (Old Panama). It was rebuilt in 1673 in a new location approximately 5 miles southwest of the original city. This location is now known as the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) of the city.

Two years after the start of the California Gold Rush in 1848, the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not begin operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction. That traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during that period.

The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the infrastructure and economy. Of particular note are the improvements in health and sanitation brought about by the American presence in the Canal Zone. These include the eradication of yellow fever and malaria and the introduction of a first-rate water supply system. However, most of the workers involved in the construction of the canal were brought in from the West Indies, which created unprecedented racial and social tensions in the city.

During World War II, construction of military bases and the presence of larger numbers of U.S. military and civilian personnel brought about unprecedented levels of prosperity to the city. Panamanians had limited access, or no access at all, to many areas in the Canal Zone neighboring the Panama metropolitan area. Some of these areas were military bases accessible only to United States personnel. Tensions arose between the people of Panama and the U.S. citizens living in the Panama Canal Zone. This erupted in the January 9, 1964 riots.

In the late 1970s through the 1980s Panama became an international banking center, bringing a lot of undesirable attention as an international money-laundering center. In 1989 after nearly a year of tension between the United States and Panama, President George H. W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama to depose the leader of Panama, General Manuel Noriega. As a result of the action a portion of the El Chorrillo, a neighborhood which consisted mostly of old wood-framed buildings dating back to the 1900s, was destroyed by fire. Eventually, the U.S. helped finance the construction of large cinderblock apartment buildings to replace the destroyed structures.

Panama remains a major banking center, although with very visible controls against money laundering. Shipping is handled through port facilities in the area of Balboa operated by the Hutchison Whampoa Company of Hong Kong and through several ports on the Caribbean side of the isthmus. Balboa, which is located within the greater Panama metropolitan area, was formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone, and in fact the administration of the former Panama Canal Zone was headquartered there.
 

Hotels

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Country Inn
 
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4 Points Sheraton
 
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El Panama
 
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Hotel Veneto & Casino
 
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Vereda Tropical



Geography
Panama City is located in the Pacific coast of Panama, east of the Panama Canal. Panama has a rainy season that stretches from May to December, and a dry season from January to April. Annual temperatures range between 21 °C (70 °F) and 35 °C (95 °F)


Panama as a World Heritage Site
Panama La Vieja (Old Panama) is the name used for the architectural vestiges of the Monumental Historic Complex of the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific coast of the Americas by Pedro Arias de Avila on 15 August 1519. This city was the starting point of the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru (1532). It also was a stopover point of one of the most important trade routes in the history of he American continent leading to the famous fairs of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo where most of the gold and Silver that Spain took from the Americas passed through.

Panamá was the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas, in 1519, and the Historic District preserves intact a street pattern, together with a substantial number of early domestic buildings, which are exceptional testimony to the nature of this early settlement. The Salón Bolivar is of outstanding historical importance, as the venue for Simón Bolivar's visionary attempt in 1826 to create a Pan-American congress, more than a century before such institutions became a reality.

The only example of true [urban revitalization] in the Panama, [Casco Antiguo] is already the second touristic destination in Panama City, second only to the Panama Canal. Both government and private sectors are actively participating not only in the restoration of the architectural patrimony but also of the human patrimony, investing in cultural industries and local entrepreneurship.
 

Restaurants

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Beirut

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Hard Rock Cafe

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Machu Picchu

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Tamburrelli



Nature
The entrance to the Metropolitan National Park Panama is located between the Pacific Ocean and many tropical rain forests. The Parque Natural Metropolitano (Metropolitan Nature Park), stretching from Panama along the Panama Canal, has several unique bird species and other animals such as tapir, puma, alligators, etc. At the Pacific entrance of the canal is the Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas (Marine Exhibitions Center), a research center for those interested in tropical marine life and ecology. Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas is managed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Tropical forests around Panama are vital for the functioning of the Panama Canal. These forests provide the canal with the watershed required for its operation (a rare example of a vast engineering project in the middle of the forest which actually helped preserve that very nature). Due to the importance of the Canal to the Panamanian economy, tropical forests around the canal have been kept in an almost pristine state. Along the western side of the Canal is the Parque Nacional Soberania (Sovereignty National Park) which includes Summit botanical gardens and a zoo. In this national park, the best known trail is the Pipeline Road, very popular among birdwatchers.


 Infrastructure

Downtown Panama, seen from the pier of the yacht club Panama currently has more than 110 high-rise projects being constructed, with 127 high-rise buildings already built. It currently holds the 65th place in the world by high rise buildings count.

The Centennial Bridge, that crosses the Panama Canal earned the American Segmental Bridge Institute prize of excellence together with 7 other bridges in the Americas.

Panama City has full access to electric service, potable water, sewer lines, telephone, cable TV service, and internet service. Telecommunications are very advanced after the privatization of the national telecommunication company in the mid-1990s. Cell phone service is also very accessible. Panama City has for years boasted some of the cleanest, best-tasting water in the world. Tap water quality is excellent throughout the City metropolitan areas.

Healthcare

Panama offers good-quality medical care and modern hospitals in the metropolitan area, however, the more isolated the location, the harder it is to access these services. The hospitals offer first-rate medical care. Many Panamanian doctors are U.S. trained, and the standards at the top hospitals compare favorably to those in the United States.

Panama counts 11 medical complexes. Around 45% of Panama physicians are located in Panama City.


Transportation
Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport has two runways and is located on the eastern outskirts of the city, is easily accessible. There are direct flights between Tocumen and New York, Newark, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Amsterdam, Madrid, and all major cities in the Caribbean area, Central America and South America.

Panama City also has a regional airport Marcos A. Gelabert, located in an area once occupied by Albrook Air Force Base. Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for regional flights within Panama and the Pearl Islands in the Pacific. Panama has an extensive and efficient, yet confusing to tourists, form of public transportation consisting of colorful painted buses colloquially known as diablo rojo. A diablo rojo is usually "customized" or painted with bright colors, usually depicting famous actors, politicians or singers. It is now popular all over the city (and also in neighboring towns) for bus drivers to personally customize the interior and exterior of their diablo rojo. There is also a bus terminal near the Marcos A. Gelabert airport which together with the airport serves as the main transport hub for the rest of the country. Panama City's only transportation problem includes frequent traffic jams due to the high levels of private transport ownership.

Panama Province Map
Panama Provinces Map locator

Map of Panama City

 


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