Discovering Panama City

Panama City is a hotbed of cultural contradictions, taking on a different personality depending upon where you look.

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    The Amador Causeway The Amador Causeway juts a couple of miles out into the Pacific and connects the mainland with four small islands. The causeway is popular with runners, bikers, and walkers, and offers a choice of restaurants, shops and a marina. 
    VisitPanama.com
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    Golden Altar Located in Casco Viejo, Iglesia de San Jose features the famous Altar de Oro -- or Golden Altar. The altar was originally located in another part of Panama City that was ransacked by pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. The altar was the only thing left after the raid because a priest had painted it black to hide the gold.
    Lisa Rogak
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    Casco Viejo Casco Viejo -- also known as Casco Antiguo -- features a variety of ruins, shops, restaurants, and historical buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries in its 38-square-block area.
    VisitPanama.com
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    Einstein's Head The giant sculpture of Einstein's head in the El Cangrejo neighborhood marks the area's history where Jews lived. Today, it's not uncommon for people to give directions using the head, as in, "It's three blocks east of Einstein's Head."
    Lisa Rogak
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    Metropolitan Cathedral Located on La Plaza de la Independencia, The Metropolitan Cathedral in Casco Viejo is a stunning example of Spanish architecture from over a century ago. La Plaza has been used as everything from a bullring to a park. 
    Lisa Rogak
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    Panama Canal Construction on the Panama Canal started in 1904 and finished 10 years later. The canal is 48 miles long and it takes 8 to 10 hours to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans -- or vice versa.
    VisitPanama.com
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    Food Chef Cuquita Arias, known as the Martha Stewart of Panama, presides over Barandas Restaurant at the Bristol Panama Hotel downtown. Her Beef Fillet with Mojo Verde and Fried Plantain are a bestseller on the menu.
    Barandas Restaurant at Bristol Panama
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    Certificates A unique souvenir from Panama City are 19th-century stock certificates that were issued to build the Canal and the railway that runs alongside it. Industrious local authors paint illustrations and sell them in local gift and antique shops.
    Lisa Rogak
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    Art Indigenous Embera Indians create crafts from tagua nuts, also known as a palm nut. They call it vegetable ivory.
    Lisa Rogak
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    Panama or Bust This bust of Pedro Arias de Avila, 1440-1531, guards the entrance of the Panama Viejo Museum, located near the ruins where the first settlers established a community in Panama. De Avila founded Panama City on August 15, 1519.
    Lisa Rogak
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