12. Town Hall

The Panamanian town council was instituted in 1521, when Carlos V granted Panama its title as a city.  In the American cities each town council had to build its own Town Hall.  It is known that in the first years of the conquest, the town halls were modest bohios or wooden houses.  In the case of Panama, starting in 1536 different incomes were used to subsidize the construction, such as the rent from the Cruces warehouses, the Lonja Municipality, the rights to wines and animal slaughter or renting lots, among others.  Approximately in 1540 some of the Town Hall houses were erected, which functioned initially as private housing for the mayor, but they had not yet been finished when a fire destroyed them.  It was not until 1583 that it was finally possible to construct a building to hold the Town Council meetings.  It was a masonry building with three lumbres in a square, on two floors, near to the Cathedral, separated by a hallway.  The 1621 earthquake destroyed the building, which by 1640 had already been erected again.  Among the government buildings, the Town Hall was the second most important in the city, after the Royal Houses.  It was made up of a room on the ground floor facing the

Plaza, two stores on the street that ran towards the South, and a back patio that adjoined the church premises.  On the upper level, and facing the Plaza, were the town hall sessions room and other offices.  The remains that are still erected allow us to observe a stone staircase that led to the higher floor where the Sala Capitular was located.  In the lower gallery we can see the pebble-stone floor, which characterizes the hallways, vestibules and patios of other buildings located on the Main Plaza.