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Foundation of Old Panama City – August 15, 2024

The Foundation of Old Panama City takes place on August 15 every year. This year the holiday falls on a Monday. The Foundation of Old Panama City is also known as Panama la Vieja Day by locals. As the name says, the day celebrates the founding of the original Panama City. Citizens of Panama have the day off and spend it with friends and families at home or enjoy one of the many parades or festivals that boast a good time and plenty of food.

History of Foundation of Old Panama City

Panama City was first founded on August 15, 1519, by Pedrarias Davila. It was the first permanent European settlement on the Pacific Ocean. Its position and rapid development led to it being given the status of a city by the Crown of Spain. It served as a portal for gold stolen from the Incas that was shipped to Spain. The fledgling city was pivotal in further explorations of Peru and provided a point to launch expeditions into the country. Panama City flourished for many years. The growing city was at the center of the gold and silver trade and became a key point in the trade between Latin America and the Philippines.

Old Panama City was the crowning city of the region before its untimely downfall in 1671. The mighty city was attacked by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan and his 1,500 men. The invaders easily overwhelmed the city’s militia and terrorized the city of Panama. During the attack, a fire was started that nearly engulfed the city while the pirates wreaked havoc. Thousands lost their lives in the attack. In the aftermath, the Spanish governor ordered that the city be moved further inland to prevent such an attack from happening again. Panama City did move and with its continued growth, the ruins of Old Panama City became a part of the suburbs of the new city.

Nowadays, Old Panama City is a town of ruin and memories that are open for guided tours and wandering for an affordable admission. The ruins of the church, convent, and several of the more stately homes are the buildings that have survived time and weathering the best. Despite the old city being uninhabitable, it still brings in a huge amount of tourism and money to Panama.

Foundation of Old Panama City timeline


Old Panama City is founded by Pedrarias Davila.

Old Town Homes

A wealthy merchant builds many private homes which end up being the most well-preserved ruins that tourists tour today.

Earthquake Shakes Panama

A devastating earthquake hits Old Panama, but the city manages to recover.

Population Grows and Attack Begins

The population of Panama reaches 10,000 just as it’s attacked by pirates and ravaged by fires.

Foundation of Old Panama City FAQs

Does the old city of Panama still exist?

The ruins of the old city still exist and are open to the public at the price of $15 for admission.

What is Panama City famous for?

Panama City is responsible for producing 55% of the country’s total G.D.P. The city is the capital of the country and is the largest city as well.

What is Panama Viejo?

The name means Old Panama, and it refers specifically to the architectural vestiges of the first version of Panama City.

Are there any vulgar words in Panama?

Panama is a mix of races from all over the world. Talking about or to someone referring to the color of their skin (or their weight) is not taboo over here.

Foundation of Old Panama City Activities

  1. Take part in local festivities

    Festivals and parades are common sights in Panama on the public holiday. Gather friends or family and spend the day enjoying the celebrations and sampling the food of local street food vendors.

  2. Visit Old Panama City

    Spend the day walking the ruins of Old Panama City and revel in the history of the area. Be sure to pack food, water, and a picnic blanket because it’s a surprisingly long walk! You can also call ahead to check if any golf carts are available.

  3. Go to the museum

    If long walks in the outdoors aren’t your idea of a good time, then maybe consider taking a walk through a blissfully air-conditioned history museum. Your journey will be more curated, and you won’t need to worry about sunscreen! There is a tower, Cathedral Tower, from which to peruse the Old Panama City.

5 Facts About Panama That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Two oceans

    Panama is the only place in the world where you can watch the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic Ocean.

  2. Second to sell Coca-Cola

    In 1906, Panama was the first country outside the U.S. to sell Coca-Cola.

  3. Bird central

    Panama has more bird species than the entirety of the U.S.

  4. First female president

    Panama elected Mireya Moscoso their first female president in 1999.

  5. Not their hat

    The Panama hat originated in Ecuador, not in Panama.

Why We Love Foundation of Old Panama City

  1. There’s a history

    By celebrating the foundation of Old Panama City we’re able to examine the past and honor the history of Panama and the capital city. It keeps us informed and makes for an interesting dinner table conversation.

  2. Teaches pride

    The public holiday encourages everyone, especially kids to take pride in their country and its history. By having the day off and participating in local festivities it’s easier to teach people the history of their home and encourage them to invest in the future.

  3. It boosts the local economy

    Although schools and some businesses close on the public holiday, there are also spaces for vendors of all sizes and formalities. Not to mention the fact that people are free to visit local monuments, restaurants, and shopping centers. Overall, the economy gets a huge boost from the public holiday.

Foundation of Old Panama City dates

2024August 15Thursday
2025August 15Friday
2026August 15Saturday
2027August 15Sunday
2028August 15Tuesday

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