"Panama City - a city of contrasts" Panamá City by elsadran

Panamá City Travel Guide: 483 reviews and 1,126 photos

Looking at pictures of the city you would think it is a modern city where inhabitants lead a style of life similar to Western standards. And this is true about the wealthy inhabitants of the more expensive areas. But it is misleading about the majority of the city population because if you have a closer look, if you walk in the streets and visit neighbourhoods outside the cosmopolitan center you will discover a lot of poverty, dirt, and disorder; a lot of noise and pollution, dilapidated buildings and scary streets where no one is advised to walk. You will observe people working in difficult conditions for just a minimal fee. Even the extraordinary construction boom of the recent years has brought no profit to the poor. Only the rich become richer while the poor get on with their hard daily struggle for survival...

The city was founded in 1519 and became the main point of shipping gold and silver to Spain. Today the remains of it is named Panama La Vieja. In 1671 Morgan, the fierce pirate looted it and burnt it to the ground so 2 years later they built the new city 5 miles away, in the location where Casco Viejo lies now. During WWII the Americans were attracted to the city which gained a lot of prosperity but as they kept all access to the central city for themselves and no Panamanians were allowed in, a lot of tension was caused. This generated a riot in 1964. The tension brought a lot of conflicts between the two governments until president Bush ordered the invasion of Panama. A large part of a poor neighbourhood was bombarded and destroyed completely by the Americans who then helped with the reconstruction building cinderblock buildings.

Today Panama City with its advanced technological services, has become an important hub of international commerce and banking. It houses more than a million inhabitants. It can satisfy every interest since there are various museums, very nice restaurants and lots of places to dance and have fun in the evening outings. Most upmarket restaurants and hotels are in Bella Vista, Marbella, Cangrejo, El Dorado, Obarrio, Punta Paitilla, Punta Pacifica, San Fransisco, Costa del Este and Balboa avenue. A big part of the old city is under restoration as it is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Casco Viejo was my favourite part. Picturesque and interesting,where walking is a pleasure. In the day of course... In the night it can be dangerous. Remarkable architecture, a lot of interesting buildings and romantic reminders of the past. In the beautiful Plaza Catedral an old man was eager to narrate all the region's history in simple daily words as he had lived it and he had heard it from his grandfather !

  • Last visit to Panamá City: Mar 2008
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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