Founded in 1519 as Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion de Panama, this was the first European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. The outpost soon became the capital of Castilla de Oro, the base for Pizarro's campaign against the Inca, and the collection point for looted Inca treasure. The city's concentrated wealth attracted unwanted attention; Welsh pirate Henry Morgan sacked Panama in 1671 in a daring raid. Two years later, the city was reestablished five miles to the southwest on a small, defensible peninsula now known as the Casco Antiguo.
Once the New World's wealthiest city, Panama's fortunes declined as Spain began routing vessels around Cape Horn. But Panama's attractive geography has brought several subsequent waves of investment—from the California Gold Rush, to the building of the canal, to the current retirement and tourism boom.
Today, Panama City is Central America's most cosmopolitan city. Dense clusters of high-rise condo, office and hotel towers line Balboa Avenue and Punta Paitilla. Visitors are drawn by the stable, dollar-denominated economy; the best shopping in the region; fine restaurants; and access to the nearby beaches, islands and rainforests. Other attractions include the ruins of Old Panama (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Inter-oceanic Canal Museum, and the Reina Torrez de Arauz Anthropological Museum.
The Casco Antiguo (or Casco Viejo) is our favorite part of Panama City. Now emerging from decades of neglect, this Havana-esque quarter exudes history and creative energy. Here you'll find storied jazz clubs, inventive restaurants, massive churches, and excellent ice-cream made by Parisian expatriates.
Day trips can be arranged from Panama City to the Miraflores Locks, indigenous Embera communities, and world-class birdwatching areas. Half and full-day transits of the Panama Canal can also be arranged.
Panama City is served by Tocumen International Airport (PTY), located 15 miles (40 minutes) to the northeast. Albrook (Marcos A. Gelabert) Airport, located about 15 minutes' drive from downtown, connects Panama City to more than dozen destinations across the country (flight times are less than one hour).
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Panama City and throughout Panama. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.
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