Above: Spanish colonial architecture and gardens in the Casco Viejo district of Panama City

Casco Viejo is a historic quarter featuring restored colonial buildings converted into high-end stores and galleries, restaurants and boutique hotels interspersed with condemned structures with collapsing façades and gutted interiors. The neighborhood depicts the perturbing extent of Panama’s wealth disparity. But the convergence of beautiful and gritty, old and new is what makes this area of Panama City the most fascinating. I recommend booking a hotel in Casco, rather than downtown, and allowing a few days to explore the neighborhood. Here are the stops that I recommend checking out.

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