Our one day stay in Panama City coincided with the first blows of Hurricane Otto that hit Central America at the end of November. If was overcast and raining most of the day.

This post is about Panama City per se. For Panama Canal see the other post.

The downtown and the apparently well-off neighborhoods by the beach with their ocean-view high-rises look quite modern and well planned. The skyline of the City as seen from the sea (see the featured image above) are quite impressive and reminescent of New York or Hong Kong. There are still slums here and there – these are ugly and non-descript, similar to those one can find in any big city around the world.

Panama City Center

 

 

It is obvious that there is money around in Panama City, and a decent share of its inhabitants are very affluent. The apartments in the ocean-facing skyscrapers get as expensive as in major cities of North America or Europe. Below: the yacht club marina and the city skyline as seen from Amador Causeway, connecting the downtown to Flamenco Island:

Panama City - a view from Calzada de Amador

 

 

The Old Town is rather small and decently preserved quarter with lots of historic buildings of Spanish colonial era, restaurants and stores. It would not be a Central American city without a monument to Bolivar, at the square of the same name:

Plaza Bolivar, Panama City

 

 

This historic building at Plaza Bolivar, the former Hotel Colombia, now hosts a few restaurants and residential apartments:

Former Hotel Colombia building at Plaza Bolivar, Panama City
Former Hotel Colombia building at Plaza Bolivar, Panama City

 

 

The “touristy” parts of the Old Town are for the most part well restored and maintained, and are paved with red tile.

Panama City - the touristy part of the Old Town

 

 

In some places the remains of old Spanish churches stand next to modern buildings.

Panama City - the touristy part of the Old Town

 

 

The New Town is not too far away and its towers can be seen from the Old Town.

Panama City: a view from the Old Town into the New Town

 

The Presidential Palace occupies a small block in the Old Town. Surprisingly, one can see no security perimeter and no guards around it. It looks like Panamanians are not too paranoid about security.

The Presidential Residence, Panama City
The Presidential Residence, Panama City

 

Some government buildings have almost imperial look, like the National Institute of Culture.

The National Institute of Culture, Panama City

Some parts of the Old Town are less well preserved, but it gives them a more genuine look.

Panama City. The Old Town.

 

Many areas are under active reconstruction, which is another indication of emerging prosperity.

Panama City. A part of the Old Town under restoration

 

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama was also under reconstruction.

Panama City: the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama under restoration
Panama City: the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama under restoration

 

 

The National Theater could use some facelift too, and I hope it is going to be its turn soon.

Panama City: the National Theater
Panama City: the National Theater

 

The boutiques and shops are everywhere, including Panama hat shops almost at every corner.

 

 

 

The beach promenade of the Old Town looked gray and sad under the tropical rain. But even under the rain the town felt hospitable and visitor friendly, and it made us wonder if maybe we should visit it again during a better season, and probably during some big holiday to check out the nightlife.

Panama City. The beach promenade of the Old Town on a rainy day.

 

Dining

Restaurants featuring all kinds of cuisine are ubiquitous in Panama City, especially in the Old Town. I liked Casa Blanca restaurant located in the former Hotel Colombia building at Plaza Bolivar (featured above).

Casa Blanca restaurant at Plaza Bolivar, Panama City
Casa Blanca restaurant at Plaza Bolivar, Panama City

 

Related galleries: Panama CanalPanama City

 

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