CASCO VIEJO was built in 1671 after Captain Henry Morgan destroyed
Panama Viejo, the original city.
Casco Viejo (also known as Casco Antiguo) was constructed as a walled city
on a peninsula off of Panama City to protect its settlers against another siege
such as the one that destroyed Panama Viejo.
Casco Viejo is reminiscent of the French Quarter of New Orleans. The
architecture dates back to the 16th and 17th century and is heavily influenced
by French Colonial architecture. When the French came to build the Panama
Canal in 1881 they lived in Casco Viejo and the French Embassy is one of the
major landmarks of Casco Viejo.
Only a decade ago the area was considered a ‘forgotten neighborhood” and was
in the midst of a rapidly deteriorating area of Panama City. It is currently a
neighborhood that is being revitalized and renovated and out of the rubble
emerges boutique hotels, eateries and beautiful homes.
In 2003 UNESCO designated Casco Viejo as a World Heritage Site and with all
of the renovations this area has become a major tourist attraction.
To walk through Casco Viejo is like strolling through history. Visit Iglesia San
Jose - the church with the Golden Altar. The priests painted this beautiful altar
black upon hearing of impending pirate attack. The Iglesia Santo Domingo is
another 17th Century church. This church has a flat arch which can still be
seen. The original church was destroyed in a fire in 1756, but the exterior and
the arch remain. Stroll down the sea wall and see the crafts and artworks
offered by local vendors. Casco Viejo offers many glimpses into Panama’s