Panama beyond the Canal

Courtesy of Anika Lanser
Courtesy of Anika Lanser
Courtesy of Anika Lanser

Whenever I told people that I was going to Panama, they always asked if I was going to the canal. And while I did go to the Mira­flores Locks and watched giant freighters pass through one of the greatest engineering feats in the world, I also did so much more during my three-day stay in Panama City.

One of the obviously touristic sites of Pana­ma City is Casco Antiguo, a historical section of the city built high up on sea walls. Although there are tons of shops selling woven bracelets, wooden animals and old Panama license plates, the architecture of the city is also fascinating. Once part of the Spanish colony, many of the churches in the area are classic Spanish archi­tecture.

However, after the Panama region was a Spanish colony parts of the area became a French colony, meaning that a lot of the ar­chitecture in the city is French as well. Seeing the contrast between the Spanish and French architecture in one city is a testament to the region’s complex colonial history.

Courtesy of Anika Lanser
Courtesy of Anika Lanser

There are also important political land­marks in Casco Antiguo, like the President’s Palace and the French Embassy. Right nearby the embassy, there was a huge outdoor display of pictures of French artworks nearby one of the highest seawalls overlooking the modern skyline of Panama City. From this same sea­wall it is possible to see the colorful roof of the Biomuseo, a large museum dedicated to the history of Panama and the biodiversity of the wildlife.

A walk through the museum taught me about the species visible in Panama and their various statuses as endangered and threatened species. The views are beautiful and the walk-through timeline explains how the creation of Panama created such incredibly diverse forests and oceans. To those traveling to Panama, I recom­mend traveling beyond the city and the canal to areas like Casco Antiguo and the Biomuseo. There is much more to Panama City than the canal zone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *