Bronze Sculptures of El Instituto Nacional of Panama

El Instituto Nacional was inaugurated on July 17, 1911; eight years after the Republic of Panama separated itself from neighboring Colombia.  The original enrollment was 1,000 external students and 200 internal students, meaning they slept and ate their meals within the educational center.

The construction of the edifice was supervised by engineer Florencio Harmodio Arosemena and the blueprints were drawn by Italian architect, Genaro Ruggieri.  Ruggieri himself designed the Municipal Palace, the Nacional Theater and the National Palace.  Steel, concrete, mosaics, stone and marble were imported from several European countries.  The construction process took almost two years.  Several Panamanian Presidents graduated from this prestigious education center during its prime years.

Ruggieri followed the Greek classical Ionic and Corinthian orders to design the columns at the entrance of the building.  The Corinthian order is the one with elegant acanthus leaves.  The bronze sculptures also followed the classic beauty of the Ancient Greeks.  In my mind this is one of the most beautiful buildings in the country.  I’m glad I captured its essence during my sojourn to the site in downtown Panama City, Panama.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

This will be the end of the Instituto Nacional gallery of photographs.  I’m proud of this work.  This is a structure that deserves to be present forever in this country.  I hope it does.

Photographs taken with a Fuji X-30 mirrorless camera.  Good Day.


8 thoughts on “Bronze Sculptures of El Instituto Nacional of Panama”

  1. Morning Barbara,

    Happy Monday to you too. I’m so glad you enjoyed the last of the picture gallery of this gorgeous building. Now we have to move to something else. So much to do, so little time…



  2. It’s an elegant building, for sure, and you’ve done such a nice job in explaining both its artistic roots and its importance to Panama. I hope it’s well-maintained, and is around to be enjoyed for a long time.

  3. Omar-

    I’ve enjoyed your blog since its inception. First time commenting. Could you provide a little more information on the Instituto. When I was in Panama decades ago, it was the hot bed of student radicalism. It appears that has not changed, but the political climate is not an intense as it once was. How does a student get selected to attend? Is it prestigious as it once was? Do you get a good education? Who pays for it? Are students selected across Panama or just from the city? Do some student still live on campus?

    The Shadow

    1. Hello Jeff:

      I’m not an expert in education, just a plain blogger taking pictures of Panama and explaining them to my readers to the best of my abilities. You have already read about the history of the entity. Now let’s tackle your questions:

      1. The Instituto Nacional has been known for carrying the flag of nationalism in Panama for decades. Its student have fought both the Panama government and the authorities of the former Canal Zone. They always wanted Panama to take full jurisdiction of the Panama Canal Zone. The riots of January 9, 1964 also known as “Día de los Mártires”, was the final straw that brought the camel down to his knees, plus the appearance of of General Omar Torrijos as the Strong Man in Panama in 1968. Both got the ball rolling to attract the attention of the world and lean the case of the return of the Panama Canal Zone towards the Republic of Panama. On September 7, 1977 the Panama Canal Treaty was signed by General Torrijos and Jimmy Carter. On midday December 31, 1999, Panama gained full control of the CZ. The students of the Instituto Nacional played a critical role in this historic happening.

      2. It’s educational prestiege has died over the years as most of the education system as a whole in Panama. If you want a high quality education, you will have to enroll your kids in the private sector.

      3. Anybody can enroll in the Instituto Nacional if they have enough available space in the center. There are no restrictions; as well as the rest of the primary schools, high schools or public universities in the country.

      4. Public education is free or almost free in Panama; including college. Private education is a whole different ballgame.

      5. There are no geographical restrictions to enroll in the Instituto Nacional or any other education center in the country.

      6. There are no accomodations to live within this high school. That policy was dropped many years ago. I don’t recall the exact date, but I do know it was discontinued a long time ago.

      Okay, I think we’re done. Now you know more about this historic building in Panama. Thank you for reading Lingua Franca. I appreciate it.

      Best Regards,


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