After the destruction of the original town, the inhabitants of Panama rebuilt a couple of miles away at what is now known as Casco Viejo (Old Town), but confusingly sometimes called Casco Antiguo (Ancient Town). Like most old downtowns, it had run down and was full of bars and prostitutes up until just a few years ago. The city decided that this area had great tourism potential and started investing in fixing it up. The fact that it surrounds the Presidential Palace probably had something to do with it too. They were right to roll the dice and now private investment has taken over and the area is quickly developing. My friend who lives in Panama says he has seen a remarkable transformation just in the last two years. It is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is now filled with nice hotels, restaurants, bars, and shopping. The place looks equally nice at night and you can feel very safe here. About half of it is still in ruins, but a lot of it is under development.
Here is the same church tower day and night.
Here is an example of how they are not wasting any space as the hat vendor here has a very nice shop, but no roof!
The church in the central plaza is interesting. Note how the center part appears older and varied in its blocks of construction? This was an original church from Panama Viejo that survived the fire. They dismantled it and assembled here, somewhat imperfectly, in the new town. The towers were obviously built later.
Here is a tip on a great activity to do at night. The restaurant, Diablicos, is here and besides good, traditional Panamanian food, has a wonderful traditional dance show. Really beautiful traditional gowns and the dancers are mere feet away from where you are dining.
Really a great place to walk around and shop or dine day or night. There are several boutique hotels and one hostel that I saw there if you want to base out of here. There is a green park strip all the way from here to modern downtown if you want to walk, run or bike. Hope you have a chance to check out Casco Viejo both day and night.