The Most Popular Landmarks and Historic Monuments in Panama

The old cathedral at Panamá Viejo, a cultural heritage monument
The old cathedral at Panamá Viejo, a cultural heritage monument | © Magela Cabrera Arias / WikiCommons
Brittney Schering

One of the most undeniably prolific signatures of Panama is the country’s history. If you’re heading to this tropical paradise, don’t leave before you’ve seen these most popular landmarks and historic monuments.

Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks

A visit to Panama City is not complete without a visit to the famous Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. Luckily, this is located very close to Clayton. Watch as the Panama Canal feeds into the Pacific Ocean, with the opening directly in front of the Miraflores Locks for viewers to watch in awe as the Canal works its wonders.

Miraflores Locks, Panama City

The Big Screw

The building formally titled the F&F Building looks like a giant screw. You will know it when you see it, and you won’t be able to un-see it once you do. It’s an architectural marvel.

Panamá Viejo

Captain Henry Morgan destroyed Panama in 1671. Until then, it was the most important Spanish trading town on the entire Pacific coast. Left behind are the ruins that remain and still cover so much ground. From streets to the cathedral, churches to convents, a hospital, bridges, and walls made of stone, a trip is not complete without paying respects with a visit to the ruins of Panamá Viejo.

City of Knowledge campus

Approximately 300 acres (121 hectares) belong to the main campus of Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge), an international complex for education, research, and innovation. The City of Knowledge promotes and facilitates synergy between universities, scientific research centers, businesses, and international organizations. The City of Knowledge Foundation is a private, non-profit organization established in 1995 that governs the campus of academia.

City of Knowledge, Panama City

La India Dormida

Located in El Valle de Anton is a grand mountain called La India Dormida, “the sleeping Indian girl.” With several trails ranging from easy to extreme, have your pick of various sights full of gorgeous waterfalls. From the short and easy trail, called the Chorro de las Mozas, to another breezy option called Chorro el Macho, other trails on offer, like La Piedra Pintada, grow in difficulty as you venture further up the mountain, naturally, leading to the top, which rewards hikers with an astounding view.

Metropolitan Natural Park

Panama City is the only metropolis to have a jungle within its city center. Hike through the many trails on offer in the Metropolitan Natural Park. Explore the gorgeous scenery and exciting chance to see the exotic wildlife that calls Panama home. With trail names like Motmots, Mahoganies, Oak, Titi Monkey, and Small Swamp, the guides can help with which path is best based on your preference of difficulty.

Jungle

Soberania National Park

This national park in Panama offers marked paths such as Pipeline Road, which is a bird lover’s paradise. Pipeline provides the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of Panama’s wildlife throughout the plush greenery of the jungle. The further you hike, the better your chance of seeing monkeys, sloths, coatimundi, and more of Panama’s furry regulars. Animals are most active in the morning, so hikers are encouraged to set out before 9am for the best experience. Other trails within this park include Plantation Path, The Pond Natural Trail, Trail of the Crosses, and Spirit of the Forest.

Larger than life nativity scene

The spirit of Navidad is a force to be reckoned with, as larger-than-life nativity scenes are created and quickly become artful roadside displays of reflection and affection. One home in David, Chiriquí features the most renowned nativity scene, called a pesebre in Panama. More than 5000 pieces take up 130 square meters (1400 square feet) of scenery, drawing crowds of curious locals and travelers alike for two decades and counting. The home is in the Las Palmeras community at Casa 58 of Urbanizacion La Perla, for those who wish to witness the masterpiece.

Say hello to Albert Einstein

Pose for a picture next to Albert Einstein’s enormous, sculpted head, which is in front of the entrance to New York Bagel Café, just across the street. Be sure to wait until traffic clears to make your way across. Pedestrians don’t exactly have the right of way in Panama, so it’s best that you proceed with caution.

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