02/18/15

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Panama la Vieja is the ruins of the original city of Panama founded in 1519 as an important center for the transport of gold and silver to Spain. The city was burned down by Henry Morgan's pirates in 1671.
 

The tower of the ruined cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, affords a view of modern Panama.

The city was relocated and rebuilt in 1673. The old quarter, Casco Antiguo, displays the mix of architecture of the colonial period.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama reflects the Spanish influence on the area. Reconstruction began in 2004.

 

The 800 buildings of Casco Antiguo are gradually being restored and the area is becoming a major tourist attraction.

 

At the time of our visit, Panama was celebrating both its Independence Day and its preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Canal. Every building was festooned with flags and banners.

Plaza de  la Independencia is where Panama declared its independence from Colombia. Busts of Panama's founding fathers are found throughout the plaza.

Despite efforts to rapidly transform the old town into a tourist attraction, some parts remain impoverished.

 

The culture, customs, and language of Panama is predominantly Caribbean Spanish. Panama has a very diverse population which is largely of mixed Spanish, Native American, and African descent/ancestry. 63% is  Mestizo.
 

On the last night of the tour, we had dinner at the Miraflores Visitors Center and were treated to a concert of traditional music and dance. 

 

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