Every day in Panama new tours is carried out, for different people, this time I went on a walking tour in La Peatonal and its surroundings, to learn about the architecture of that place and its surroundings.
Little by little we arrived at the meeting point, a mini square, Plaza 5 de Mayo, if you don’t see someone, look around, they may be sheltering from the sun, that’s what we did.
Being 3:00 p.m. The tour began, the first point was from the Plaza 5 de Mayo, where the monument in honor of the 6 firefighters who died in the El Polvorín incident is located. You can even see their names.
From that point, we also saw in the Reina Torres de Araúz Museum, which for that weekend, has a lot of scaffolding, so we only saw the scaffolding lol. Before there was the Panama Railroad Station (1909/1911), its design is from USA with two doors, one for blacks and one for whites, I imagine that inside the dodo was double.
This type of architecture has Roman details, simplicity, white walls, they are large constructions among other things.
- The National Institute was the First Headquarters of the University of Panama (1909), I didn’t know that fact. It has two large bronze sculptures at the entrance, brought from Italy, its wings symbolize freedom, the head knowledge and the body strength. We didn’t go in, although I think when it’s open you can go in, but it’s quite pretty from the outside.
It is characterized by wide balconies, with 45º angles, wrought iron details with geometric simplicity, rounded corners.
We saw several of this design line, among them are:
- The Internacional Hotel (today República Hotel), it is located in front of Plaza 5 de Mayo.
- The Caja del Seguro Social (the Social Security) on Calle 17, the first building of the institution, built in 1942. Examples of Art Deco ironwork can be seen on the iron doors at the entrance.
- Also, the National Bank of Panama, from 1938, the guide tells us that it looks like a ship, although I think you have to move away a bit to be able to notice it. He tells us that he still has the same lamps and furniture.
- El Corte Inglés building (next to Telas El Contendor), currently in Panama there is no branch of El Corte Inglés, however, on one side, there is still the sign.
- La Pollera (1928), the one that I liked the most, it looks more preserved, its design refers to the lace of the Panamanian national costume, it was one of the first skyscrapers in Panama, although we would rather say, one of the tallest buildings in Panama for that time, it had 16 apartments and a central park.
It is characterized by long horizontal lines, rounded corners and nautical elements. From what I investigated it is a late Art Deco.
I’ve never heard of this style, probably not many of you.
In this style, we saw the Panama International Insurance building (1952/53), today the Fantastic Casino, the windows are like those of Miami in the USA and the eaves have a slot at the bottom very close to the edge, which prevents that when it rains the water runs inside. When you pass by the CSS building, you can see it better.
It is characterized by simplicity, absence of ornaments, new elements such as steel are used.
The ones we saw are:
- Kodak building (currently Banco General), the first building with Air Conditioning in Panama and of course, if they work with photography, they had to have AC to prevent the weather from damaging the material, in addition, to develop the films, a totally closed place is needed but ventilated, otherwise it can be very toxic.
- The first Sears in Panama was in La Peatonal, built for the 60’s, in the windows you can see the galvanized aluminum. In fact, there was the entrance to the parking lot of La Peatonal. There are still shops on the ground floor, I don’t know when it stopped being used as an entrance, but I remember going through there in the 1990s.
Other places in La Peatonal
We saw other buildings, such as Fuerza y Luz, of electrical energy, on the exterior walls you can still see beautiful murals, it reminded me a bit like a theater. Nearby was the Spanish Society, practically only the façade remains, in its best times it must have been a spectacle.
We visited the Plaza de Santa Anta (1920), where the lottery used to be played in the gazebo, imagine yourself in that tiny place.
Of course, we passed by the Café Coca Cola (1875), probably known by most city dwellers, what perhaps, almost nobody knows is that it is the only place in the world that has permission to use the word Coca Cola in its name, some of the guys came in to buy a Coke.
It works more like a small restaurant. I remember as a girl going to eat ice cream. This was the oldest place we saw and best of all it is still in use, it hasn’t even changed its name.
In fact, many of the buildings have a central park, just like when you go to a mall there is a plaza in the center and around it, there are the stores, well, just the same, only instead of stores they are apartments.
It’s a totally different tour than what you see in Panama, I loved it, I’ve been to La Peatonal so many times, even to take photos and there are buildings that I don’t even remember seeing them before.
This is a fully recommended tour for lovers of architecture, contemporary art and anyone who is intrigued by those buildings that just by looking at them seem to tell a story.
- Wear sunscreen
- In rainy weather, carry an umbrella,
- Sneakers or comfortable walking shoes,
- If at the end you go home, take some effect in small bills, maybe you want to take advantage of some of the super prices on fruits and vegetables from the vendors of La Peatonal. Also bring a sturdy bag for what you buy.
- Two Sundays per month, one yes and one no.
- From 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (approximately 2 hours)
- $10.00 per person.
Daniel of ModernPTY, you can contact him by instagram en @modernpty
Where is La Peatonal of La Centra
La Peatonal is in La Central, in what would be the first commercial area of contemporary Panama City, on Central Avenue, between El Casco Antiguo and Plaza 5 de Mayo.
How to get to the walking tour of La Peatonal?
It is quite easy to get to the tour.
By bus: take any bus that goes to 5 de Mayo or the Marañón paid area (it’s like a small bus terminal), from there go to Plaza 5 de Mayo or the beginning of the Peatonal (where the stores are) .
Plaza 5 de Mayo is super small, it looks like a triangle.
By car: it is a bit complicated due to the parking area, there are people who park on 5 de Mayo, but it is prohibited there and they can fine you.
The best thing is to park in the Cinta Costera, near the Mercado del Marisco, cross Balboa Avenue.
Continue 3 blocks under the vehicular bridge then take the left hand onto Mexico Avenue, cross 2 streets and you will still have the square.
Other places you may like
- El Chorrillo tour, The Popular neighborhood, will it be dangerous?
- Free Walking Tour in Casco Antiguo
- 7 Churches of Casco Antiguo
- Mi Pueblito, a Sample of the Panamanian Culture
- Ancón Hill, Tropical Humid Forest and Viewpoint of Panama City