Begin your exploration today at the ruins of Panama Viejo (the old city). Panama City is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was founded in 1519 as a consequence of the discovery by the Spanish of the “South Sea” in 1513. The archaeological remains of the original settlement (known today as the Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo) include the Pre-Columbian vestiges of the Cuevan aboriginal occupation of the same name, and currently encompass a UNESCO protected heritage site covering 32 hectares. The settlement was a first rank colonial outpost and seat of a Royal Court of Justice during the 16th and 17th centuries when Panama consolidated its position as an intercontinental hub. Its growth in importance, as it profited from the imperial bullion lifeline, is reflected by the imposing stone architecture of its public and religious buildings. During its 152 years of existence, the town was affected by slave rebellion, fire and an earthquake, but was destroyed in the wake of a devastating attack in 1671 by pirate Henry Morgan. Visit the recently inaugurated on-site museum and climb the cathedral tower.
Continue to Casco Antiguo. In 1673, after the devastating pirate attack, Panama City was moved some 7.5 km west of its original location, to a small peninsula at the foot of Ancon hill, closer to the islands that were used as the port and near the mouth of a river that eventually became the entrance of the Panama Canal. The relocated town, known today as Casco Antiguo or the Historic District of Panama, not only had better access to fresh water but could be fortified. The military engineers, moreover, took advantage of the morphological conditions that complemented the wall surrounding the peninsula, all of which prevented direct naval approaches by an enemy. Several buildings within the District are identified as important for the country’s 17th-20th century heritage. Most outstanding are the churches, above all the metropolitan cathedral with its five aisles and timber roof; San Felipe Neri, San José, San Francisco and especially La Merced with its well-preserved colonial timber roof. The Presidential Palace originally built in the late 17th century and partially reconstructed in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, is a revealing example of the transformations that
characterize the Historic District as a whole. The House of the Municipality, the National Theatre, the Ministry of Government and Justice and the Municipal Palace are outstanding buildings of a more recent period. Casco Antiguo is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the Inter-Oceanic Canal Museum.
Lunch will take place at a local restaurant.
This afternoon you will tour the Biodiversity Museum, designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. As a Smithsonian Affiliate museum, the Biodiversity Museum serves as a gateway to new information about the biodiversity and natural history of the Isthmus of Panama. Scientific experts from both the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Panama oversee the contents of the museum and aim at teaching visitors about eco-awareness, conservation and Panama’s extraordinary natural treasures in various unique exhibition galleries. Did you know that the Isthmus of Panama has more bird, mammal, reptile and plant species than the US and Canada together in just 75,990 Km2 (approx. 29,000 square miles)? In fact, 3 million years ago, the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama changed both the climate and the biodiversity in the planet and played a key role in the creation of the world we know today.
Return to your hotel.
Included: Private bilingual guide and driver, museum admission fees, bottled water, lunch.
Not included: Tips for guide and driver
Departures: 10:00 AM,
Meeting instructions: Specific pick up or taxi instructions will appear on your voucher after you purchase your trip.
Special instructions: - The price of lunch is included in this program. One non alcoholic beverage and bottled water is also included.
- We suggest you bring sunscreen as well as insect repellant.
- Please wear shoes with good traction.
- We suggest bringing a rain coat and dressing in light layers.
- You will be asked to indicate any allergies or dietary restrictions upon check out.