A street cat tries to climb into a bin. On one of the many doorsteps a dog is sound asleep. Kids run around, playing tag while a few teenagers are listening to some music blasting through their phones. Laundry is drying above the sidewalk and a woman has a loud conversation with her opposite neighbour from her colourful wooden balcony. We are walking the streets of Casco Viejo, Spanish for old quarter, in the historical centre of Panama City.
Built in 1673 on a peninsula, it was fortified by a wall at sea to prevent attacks as the former city that was located about 8 kilometres north was destroyed in a massive pirate attack. On land, Casco Viejo was protected by a wall and several posts. Many of these fortifications still exist today and can be visited as well as the historical Cathedral Metropolitana, churches, plaza’s. The best way of enjoying this charming neighborhood is to wander through its streets, passing by crumbled-down colonial houses side by side with tastefully renovated ones.
At a street corner, the brand new skyscrapers of the modern city arise on the horizon and bring us back to our time, reminding us of the fantastic economic boom Panama has enjoyed since it took full charge of the Panama Canal.