miércoles, 5 de junio de 2013

((((((panama la vieja))))))

Today we can see the remains of the main buildings of this era and know little of the colonial past. It is possible to investigate the remains of several government buildings, the convent, the actual cas, bridge or churches. For me the biggest attraction is the church tower with height 30 meters, which has a viewpoint open to the public. From the tower you can see the new city with its high buildings, sea and southern corridor. Lisa and primarily the ruins of Old Panama is an excellent place to visit to do a nice walk and know something about history. Besides this this area is well maintained, has a visitor center, museum, craft shops and restaurants The journey can take an average of 2 to 3 hours including museum admission.

Panama la Vieja, or Old Panama in English, is situated just northeast of downtown Panama City. The city was founded by Pedrarias Davila in August of 1519, and is the oldest Spanish settlement on the Pacific. At one time a thriving city, Panama la Vieja benefited from the Portobelo trade fairs and most notably from Spain's great bullion lifeline (shipments were said to pass through Panama while en route from Peru's silver mines to Europe). Quickly, the city became a major center for merchants and landowners, with a population that presumably reached 10,000 by the mid-17th century.
Destroyed in 1671 during Sir Henry Morgan's invasion, the city was never rebuilt. In fact, the city center was relocated approximately 8 km (4.8 miles) from the war torn ruins, and by the 1950's Panama's new, modern city reached the ruins of Panama la Vieja. Declared a Historic Site in 1976, the ruins or Old Panama enjoy government protection, and have been administered by the foundation Patronato Panama La Vieja since 1995.

Built alongside a rather shall bay, the Cathedral and major governmental building were all built near the mouth of the cove. The most desirable houses and covenants were constructed along the beachfront which ran parallel to the old city. The town was comprised of a grid with crisscrossing blocks, with the main plaza being almost completely square. The neighboring communities were apparently less grid like, often dispersed without any noticeable pattern.
While Panama la Vieja is quite extensive it does not offer a clear view of how the city appeared before it's destruction.; there is a scale model on display at the National Institute of Culture. Perhaps, the most striking buildings were the churches, some of which faced the ocean. They seemed to follow a uniform design: simple rectangular plans, stone outer walls, timber roofs and internal wooden supports.
Built of timber and adjacent to one another, most houses were either two or three floors and were comprised of inner courts, balconies, and open-air kitchens. Those that visible are made of cement, however, the remaining structures don't' adequately depict what a typical house might have looked like; the fact that these are made in cement might indicate that they were quite important.

Once arriving, the most striking and noticeable structure is the Cathedral, which sits at the far end of the ruins. Several stories in height, this is the most picturesque of all the structures remaining. Near the Cathedral there is a small tourist office which can provide a bilingual tour if needed; the fees appear to be very reasonable. In addition, post cards and a large map depicting the ruins, their location and importance can also be obtained there when available.
Across the street from the Cathedral are numerous other ruins which occupy one full block. While not nearly as impressive as the Cathedral, these ruins are interesting and a worth visiting; remember, your not in Rome. Most of the structures have a plate adhered to them, offering a brief description of the ruin. Of all the structures in this area, perhaps the most impressive is the Jesuit Church and Covenant, however, numerous other houses, churches, halls and convents are present.
Just minutes from downtown Panama City, Panama la Vieja is well worth a visit for anyone with just a few hours to spend. There are public buses that pass the ruins, or taxis charge about $1.50 - $2.00 from the city. It costs $2.00 to enter and see the ruins, except for Sunday's when no fee is charged.
A new Panama Viejo Musuem, situated just east of the ruins, has recently been completed and is now open to the public. The Museum is comprised of two distinct buildings, one which is open to the public and the other not. The Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. seven days a week and costs $2.00 to enter; you will receive a ticket that can be used to see the ruins. As well, if you pay your $2.00 at the ruins the cost includes entrance to the museum. The museum is rather small but has several nice artifacts, paintings, and photos of the area that made up Old Panama. Guides are provided at no additional cost, with English and Spanish spoken. Audio tapes in Italian, French, Portuguese and other languages are also available. The second building contains administrative offices and a labratory where items collected are refurbished before being added to the musuem. Due to the fact that chemicals are used in this process it's closed to the public.

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