Panama: Culture and Arts
Miami of the South
The capital of Panama is a modern, thriving commercial centre stretching 10km along the Pacific coast from the ruins of Panama Viejo in the east to the edge of the Panama Canal in the west. The old district of San Felipe (also known as Casco Antiguo or Casco Viejo) juts into the sea on the south-western side of town. It's an area of decaying colonial grandeur, striking architecture, peeling paint and decrepit balconies.
Attractions include the 17th-century Metropolitan Church, the Interoceanic Canal Museum of Panama, the Plaza de Bolivar, the Presidential Palace, the History Museum of Panama and the sea wall built by the Spaniards four centuries ago. Via Espana's banking district is the complete opposite to this yesteryear charm, with aggressively modern buildings and sophisticated entertainments.
Attractions on the fringes of the city include the Panama Canal, the 16th-century ruins of Panama Viejo, the Summit Botanical Gardens and Zoo, the tropical rain forest of the Parque Nacional Sobrerania and the 265-hectare (655-acre) Parque Natural Metropolitano.