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By most measures, Panamá City is a modern metropolis of soaring glass and steel skyscrapers. A city with firm roots in international banking and trade. A city standing on the threshold of two hemispheres. Upon closer inspection, though, leisure travelers find that Panamá City offers much more. Important sights include the famed Panama Canal, an engineering marvel that links the Pacific to the Atlantic, and Casco Antiguo, the city's colonial section, noteworthy for its centuries-old, Spanish-influenced architecture. Nearby is Panamá Viejo, the colonial city founded by Spanish conquistador Pedrarías Dávila in 1519 that's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other areas of interest include the bustling shopping districts of Via España and Av Central, where bazaars and markets carry local products like wood carvings, woven items, ceramics, and tribal masks. Of course, no visit to Panamá City would be complete without time spent on its exquisite Pacific beaches – little more than an hour's drive from the capital city, their warm temperatures make them a perennially hot destination. Folks lucky enough to be in Panamá City during Carnivale often find themselves overwhelmed at first, but the spirit of celebration quickly rids most inhibitions. Vibrant yet sophisticated, colonial yet modern, mysterious yet welcoming – Panamá City defies comparison.
Thursday, February 08, 2007