This day begins at the Miraflores Visitors Center to see ships transiting
the locks and learn how and why the canal was built and is maintained today.
Then we are off to Panama Viejo, the site of the original city of Panama
sacked by Henry Morgan in 1671 followed by lunch at a Panama City
restaurant. The afternoon will be spent visiting the Mercado del Marisco,
exploring the quaint streets of old Panama, Casco Antiguo, and time
permitting, some shopping at the Artisans Market .
Miraflores Visitors Center
The Miraflores Visitor Center (MVC) is an
expression of the permanent commitment of the Panama Canal Authority to
strengthen the public’s knowledge of the Canal. Located on the east side of
the Miraflores Locks, the MVC allows the visitor to observe transiting
vessels from a distance of only a few meters and learn firsthand about the
various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its
participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed.
From the observation platform, you’ll watch in awe as ocean-going
ships are tendered through huge locks with only inches to spare.
Founded in 1519 by the conquistador Pedrarías Dávila, Panamá Viejo is the
oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was laid
out on a rectilinear grid and marks the transference from Europe of the idea
of a planned town. In 1671 the city was sacked and burned by the Welsh
privateer, Henry Morgan. Today, the remaining ruins are a UNESCO World
Mercado del Marisco
The waters off the coast of Panama on the Pacific
side are rich in marine life. The fishermen come in daily and sell their
catches to wholesaler buyers who then resell the fish to retailers. The
stands in the seafood market are retailers who sell to the general public.
The historic center of Panama City is a quiet, charming district of
narrow streets overlooked by the flower bedecked balconies of two and
three-story houses. At its tip lies French Park, a monument to the French
builders who began the Panama Canal, and the lovely French Embassy. As we
meander through the area we will see the remaining ruins of the convents and
seminaries, the famous Flat Arch, and the beautiful Cathedral with its
mother of pearl covered spires.
The Artisan Market in Panama City is a warren of wonderful little stalls
and stores where it is possible to find, under one roof, all of the
local arts and crafts. The mola, made by the Kuna Indians, is an
intricately stitched and overlaid piece of fabric that can be used for
The tagua nut is a
collectible item that is delicately carved and painted to resemble many
of the local wildlife of Panama. Beadwork and Embera baskets abound.