I really enjoy history and seeing ruins on my travels. Panama has plenty of history and you don’t have to go far to find it in Panama. Panama Viejo (Old Panama) is also called Casco Antiguo by some. This was the original Spanish settlement established in 1519 as the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific. It thrived through the looting and mining of the Spanish, by being the transit point for gold brought up from Peru which then was brought by wagon across the isthmus and the loaded on ships bound for Spain on the Atlantic coast.
This all changed in 1671, when the pirate Henry Morgan marched all the way across the isthmus and attacked the town of 10,000 from behind. They only had a fort on the ocean to defend against sea attacks and the city quickly fell. Either Morgan’s men or the militia started a fire which consumed the city. After two years, a new town was built a couple of miles away that I will write more on tomorrow.
Here is a model of what the town originally looked like.
The ruins obviously lay untended for many years, but there has been an admirable effort to preserve them in the last couple of decades. Particularly impressive is the bell tower of the church which still stands.
Another old church at the other end of town has been restored and looks great. It is very impressive how large it is compared to my five foot tall wife.
My friend told me that couples still get married in this church and you can see the icon that has been restored to where it was in olden times.
The whole area has great little panels to explain the various ruins.
If you are interested in history, check out Panama Viejo. If not, go to Casco Viejo (tomorrow’s post) for a lively time.