If you have been following my posts, you already know that Panama Viejo or Panama La Vieja was the first European city on the Pacific Coast of both Americas. It was founded in 1519 by Pedro Arias de Ávila and inhabited until 1671 when the English buccaneer Henry Morgan attacked and destroyed the city. In 1671, twelve hundred men led by the English pirate Henry Morgan ransacked and subsequently destroyed the city.
Today there is an interesting museum at the Visitor Center of The Monumental Historic Complex of Panama Viejo and the ruins of various churches and monasteries are open to visitors. Some are in a very poor condition, others have been carefully restored. The highlight is the tower of the ancient cathedral offering not only views over Panama Viejo but also over modern Panama City.
The city’s cathedral, “Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción”, built between 1610 and 1626, and the neighboring Bishop’s House (Casa Alarcón) are the two best-preserved structures, both near the ruin’s main entrance.
The four-story bell tower of the cathedral has been recently fully restored to its original splendor. The site is hauntingly beautiful, partly shaded by giant trees—including some ancient and beautiful Panama trees.
Today, I invite you to visit with me this venerable structure which is the most emblematic and loved of all the buildings of Panama. The Tower of Panama Viejo is very much like the Statue of Liberty to the United States, the Eiffel Tower to France or the Sydney Opera House to Australia.
Let’s begin the tour of the cathedral. Here we go.
The ruins of Panama Viejo are located on the outskirts of Panama City, about four miles East of the downtown area. Panama Viejo is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Your $1.50 admission feee includes a visit to the ruins. There is free parking in front of the building that houses Panama Viejo Museum and crafts market.
The tour is over. I hope you have enjoyed the trip and are not too tired of climbing the stairways of the cathedral’s bell tower. Good Day.