The archaeological site
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The Panama Viejo Historical Monument Complex, designated as such by Law 91 of December 1976 and also known as the Panama Viejo Archaeological Site or as Panama La Vieja, is located within the modern city of Panama, between the mouths of the rivers Algarrobo and Abajo, in front of the Pacific Ocean, at the narrowest part of the Isthmus.

The site includes the ruins of the first European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, as well as traces of the first inhabitants of the Isthmus.  Panama City was founded by Pedrarias Dávila on August 15th 1519, and reached 10,000 inhabitants in the XVII century.

Initially Panama’s function was closely linked to the conquest expeditions that were heading to South America, but its strategic role as the axis of one of the most important commercial routes of the time placed the city in a privileged position and marked from then on its destiny as a territory at the service of international transit.

In 1671 the city was destroyed by an attack led by the English pirate Henry Morgan, and it was never rebuilt. The remains of the old city were abandoned for more than two centuries.  This radical abandonment allowed for the long-term conservation of the historical and archaeological remains of the important buildings and structures, while the city’s activity was transferred to what is currently known as the Old Quarter or Casco Antiguo.

The city of Panama, towards the XVII century, had an approximate area of 60 hectares. Currently the Panama Viejo Historical Monument Complex covers around 28 hectares that include the ruins of some of the most important buildings of the Colonial period, as well as the archaeological traces of the pre-Hispanic and Colonial periods.  On July 5th 2003 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee added the Panama Viejo Archaeological Site the World Heritage list as an extension of Panama’s Historic District.

The Panama Viejo Historical Monument Complex  and the actions of the Patronato Panama Viejo are covered by the following laws:

Chronology of the Panama Viejo Historical Monument Complex

1912 – The ruins were declared a public monu
1916 – The first boundaries were established
1940 – The first invasions began
1950 – Cincuentenario Avenue was built
1976 – The Panama Viejo Historical Monument Complex was declared
1995 – The Patronato Panama Viejo was created
1996 – Law 30 of February 6th was issued, which allows Patronato Panama Viejo to manage public funds
2003 – UNESCO added the site to the World Heritage List as an extension of Panama’s Historical District
2007 – Law 16 of May 22nd was created, which modifies the boundaries of the site and creates a buffer zone
2013 - Cincuentenario Avenue was moved so that is passes outside the perimeter of the archaeological site