Panama City: Five Centuries of its Own
By Marianela Martín
The fifth centenary of beautiful Panama , the first city founded by Spanish colonizers on the Pacific coast, has just been completed on its fifth centennial. This August, specifically on the 15th, recalling that date, but from 1519, when Pedro Arias Dávila was born on the isthmus of Central America, with only a hundred people a stable European settlement, transformed today into a modern metropolis, multiculturalism, constantly evCityolving.
From 2017 the 500 of the founding of Our Lady of the Assumption of Panama began to be celebrated, which occurred 27 years after Columbus' first trip to this part of the planet. Far away was Arias Dávila from imagining that this blessed land would, some time later, be the route that united the seas, a vital point for the trade of the orb and bridge of the world, from the instant when, after the conquest of Peru, at the end of the sixteenth century , was a mandatory scale for the transport of goods with final destination Seville, as explained by the historian Omar Jaén.
It was in the last century that Panama began to take the first safe steps in favor of its development with the opening of the Canal, the fabulous engineering work that connects the Pacific with the Atlantic, without the need to look for other alternative routes, much longer.
"The evolution of the city since the end of the nineteenth century is closely linked to that of the Canal, which remains the main element of the development of the capital in our day", insists Jaén, who is more than convinced that we are talking about the main driver of the Economy of the Central American Country, by welcoming two-thirds of cargo ships that are headed from or departing from the United States, as well as those that move 6% of world trade.
Since 2016, a much more efficient infrastructure has been created from its expansion, which cost more than 15 billion euros.
Panama is now shown as a city "painted" of skyscrapers, sheltering more than a million inhabitants and is considered a financial center thanks to thousands of companies operating in Central America and the Caribbean.
The Old Panama City
Of what was formerly this city of five centuries attests the Casco Viejo, which frames the space that occupied Panama City when it was moved there in 1673 and which stands out as a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 1997.
There are four main squares that this historic quarter has: the name of Independence, the Bolivar, the Herrera and France, erected in honor of the French people, pioneer in the construction of the Canal.
Religious buildings together with other powerful buildings (National Theater, Government Palace, Presidency of the Republic, Bolivar Palace, National Institute of Culture, Municipal Palace, House of the Municipality...) decorate its cobblestone streets, while the Coastal Tape, that attractive boulevard by the sea, gives it a cosmopolitan touch by becoming the setting where the most important events and festivities of the year are held: from the Carnival to the Gay Pride parade.
Splendid nature is another of the features that distinguishes this tropical country with 220 species of mammals and 978 birds, its jungle, its cloud forests, all ideal for practicing adventure tourism. Or, according to the demands of naturalists, to enjoy unforgettable sun and beach baths, with specimens that look like they were taken from the postcards of Eden.
The 500 of Panama has also been a motivation to celebrate again the privilege of defending a culture, an identity that, as a blessing, settled with the melting pot of races: Spanish, Amerindian, African, the West Indies and people from numerous countries found their home on the isthmus.