Foundation of Old Panama City in Panama

The Foundation of Old Panama City, or "La Fundación de la Antigua Ciudad de Panamá," is a significant historical event in Panama, marking the establishment of the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. This event laid the foundation for the modern-day city of Panama City and played a crucial role in shaping the country's history.


Old Panama City, also known as Panama Viejo, was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Ávila, commonly known as Pedrarias Dávila. The settlement was strategically established as a hub for the exploration and conquest of the South American continent and as a transit point for gold and silver coming from the Inca Empire. It was also the starting point of the famous Camino Real, a road that connected the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, facilitating the transport of treasures to be shipped back to Spain.

In 1671, Old Panama City was attacked and destroyed by the infamous Welsh pirate Henry Morgan. As a result, the city was rebuilt approximately 8 kilometers southwest of the original site, now called Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo, which is the historic district of modern Panama City. The ruins of the original Old Panama City have been preserved and are now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


National customs for the Foundation of Old Panama City in Panama

Although the Foundation of Old Panama City is not celebrated as a national holiday in Panama, it is an essential part of the country's history and identity. The event is commemorated through educational initiatives, guided tours, and cultural events organized by institutions such as the Patronato Panama Viejo, which is responsible for the conservation and management of the Panama Viejo Historical Monument Complex. These initiatives aim to raise awareness and appreciation of the historical and cultural significance of Old Panama City among locals and tourists alike.

Local customs for the Foundation of Old Panama City in Panama

At the local level, schools and institutions in Panama City often organize events and activities to commemorate the Foundation of Old Panama City. These activities include historical reenactments, educational workshops, guided tours of the ruins, and artistic performances that highlight the rich history and culture of the period. Additionally, visitors can explore the Panama Viejo Museum, which showcases artifacts, exhibits, and audiovisual presentations that tell the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the first European city on the Pacific coast of the Americas.


The Foundation of Old Panama City is a momentous event in Panama's history, marking the beginning of a significant chapter in the colonization and development of the Americas. Although not celebrated as a national holiday, the event is commemorated through various educational and cultural initiatives that aim to preserve and promote the historical and cultural heritage of Old Panama City. Visiting the ruins of Panama Viejo and engaging in the various activities organized around this historical event offers a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history of Panama and gain a deeper understanding of its past.