Plaza de Francia

A good place to start exploring the small peninsula that is occupied by Casco Viejo is at the very end. Plaza de Francia is a small plaza full of trees and a monument to the more than 20,000 French workers who died during the original French Panama Canal project attempt in the late 1800s. There is also a plaque honoring Carlos Finlay, the Cuban doctor who discovered how mosquitoes transmit yellow fever. This allowed the US builders of the Panama Canal to reduce cases and deaths due to the disease.

Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Plaza de Francia

Monument to Carlos Finlay at Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Monument to Carlos Finlay

Also on Plaza de Francia are the French Embassy, Las Bóvedas (a former dungeon used by the Spanish), and Instituto Nacional de Cultura (the museum authority for Panama and the former Palacio de Justicia).

French Embassy at Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo, Panama City

French Embassy

Las Bóvedas at Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Las Bóvedas

Instituto Nacional de Cultura at Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Instituto Nacional de Cultura

Walk up the stairs next to the monument to Paseo de Las Bóvedas. This walkway provides great views of the modern city, the plaza, and the Pacific Ocean, where many ships await their transit of the Panama Canal.

Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Plaza de Francia

Plaza de Francia from Paseo de Las Bóvedas in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Plaza de Francia from Paseo de Las Bóvedas

View of modern Panama City from Paseo de Las Bóvedas in Casco Viejo, Panama City

View of modern Panama City from Paseo de Las Bóvedas

Several vendors sell souvenirs such as Panama hats, fridge magnets, license plates, and artwork along Paseo de Las Bóvedas. Part of the walkway is under a flower covered arch.

Paseo de Las Bóvedas in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Paseo de Las Bóvedas

A small historical marker along the walkway notes the site where on 3 November 1903, Captain Raul Chevalier fired a cannon at a Colombian battleship which then returned fire. The Colombian ship was then pursued by US Navy gunboats forcing it to retreat, thus securing Panamanian independence from Colombia.

Captain Raul Chevalier Plaque on Paseo de Las Bóvedas in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Captain Raul Chevalier historical marker

Plaza Carlos V is a small but pleasant park just a few blocks from Plaza de Francia.

Plaza Carlos V in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Plaza Carlos V

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