Colon, Panama | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Average: 9 (1 vote)

Colon, Panama

Colón is a city in Central Panama. The town is in poor condition and notorious for its high crime rate, but it is worth driving around to look at the culture, people and architecture.

History

The city was founded by Americans in 1850 as the Atlantic terminal of the Panama Railroad, then under construction to meet the gold rush demand for a fast route to California. For a number of years early in its history, the sizable United States émigré community called the town Aspinwall after Panama Railroad promoter William Henry Aspinwall, while the city's Hispanic community called it Colón in honor of Christopher Columbus. The city was founded on the western end of a treacherously marshy islet known as Manzanillo Island. As part of the construction of the Panama Railroad, the island was connected to the Panamanian... Read more

Colon, Panama

Destination:

Colón is a city in Central Panama. The town is in poor condition and notorious for its high crime rate, but it is worth driving around to look at the culture, people and architecture.

History

The city was founded by Americans in 1850 as the Atlantic terminal of the Panama Railroad, then under construction to meet the gold rush demand for a fast route to California. For a number of years early in its history, the sizable United States émigré community called the town Aspinwall after Panama Railroad promoter William Henry Aspinwall, while the city's Hispanic community called it Colón in honor of Christopher Columbus. The city was founded on the western end of a treacherously marshy islet known as Manzanillo Island. As part of the construction of the Panama Railroad, the island was connected to the Panamanian mainland by a causeway and part of the island was drained to allow the erection of permanent buildings.

Much of the city was destroyed in the Burning of Colón during the Colombian Civil War of 1885, and again during a massive fire in 1915. The Great Colon Fire of April 13–14, 1940 destroyed one-third of the city.

Fort De Lesseps
Fort De Lesseps was a small U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps fort located at the northern tip of the city. It was named after the canal developer Ferdinand de Lesseps.

From 1948 to 1989

In 1948, the southeastern corner of Manzanillo Island was designated as the Colón Free Trade Zone. The Free Trade Zone has since been expanded through land reclamation on the Folks River and annexation of parts of France Field (now Enrique Adolfo Jiménez Airport) and Coco Solo.

During its heyday, Colón was home to dozens of nightclubs, cabarets, and movie theaters. It was known for its citizens' civic pride, orderly appearance, and outstanding native sons and daughters. Politically instigated riots in the 1960s destroyed the city's municipal palace and signaled the start of the city's decline, which was further accelerated by the military dictatorships of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega from 1968 to 1987.

Since late 2014
A massive restoration and reconstruction project, involving parks, avenues, and historic buildings and monuments, began in late 2014 and uses the hashtags #RenovaciónColón, #CiudadDeColón, #RenovationColon (Renovation of Colón) and #CityOfColon. The First Baptist Church of Colón, Panama, is one of the buildings whose renovation has been completed.


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Colon, Panama: Port Information


There are 2 cruise terminals.
  • On the east side of the canal (The Cristobal Pier).
  • The Colon 2000 - within a large duty-free zone. It is quite new and modern with a lounge area, shops, cafes, etc. One can buy tours outside the terminal.
To explore the city on your own, walk through the parking towards the shopping center. One can spend time there or take a taxi to explore the city.

Get around Colon, Panama


The best way to get around Colon is by taxi or car. Walking is not advisable.

What to see in Colon, Panama


  • Parks and Statues, most are by the shore area. The most notable is the one you see coming into Colón on Central Ave.
  • Christ Church by the Sea.
  • Colón 2000, Paseo Gorgas (Far Northeast End of City). If tourists or businessmen for some reason have to stay overnight in Colón and need a SAFE place to eat, use an ATM machine, stock up on supplies, etc., their best best would be to go to the shopping plaza/cruise ship port Colón 2000. There are two restaurants there (Café Iguana and a Subway), a Super 99 grocery store, a Western Union branch, and an internet café. The main thing to emphasize is that it's 100% safe as long as you stay within the plaza area, there are both private guards and actual Panamanian police watching over it. Also in the back, there are some halfway-decent souvenir shops and you can watch boats go by. How dangerous the city itself is so well-known there isn't much I could add to that, but Colón 2000 is at least one area you can breathe easy in and get some errands run if you need to.
  • Columbus Cathedral. Beautiful Catholic church that's worth a picture, but don't leave the taxi and walk around there. Roll down the window and take the picture, then quickly roll it back up again!
  • Gatún Locks, Panama Canal, 10km south of Colón. Not as impressive as the Miraflores Locks near Panama City, but if you want to see where the ships enter and leave on the Caribbean side as opposed to the Pacific side, here it is. Not bad really, there's a souvenir shop here as well.
  • List of Monuments Not to Miss. Christopher Columbus statue, Christ statue and Virgin Mary statue (both near the Seawall), Shell Monument, Aspinwall Monument, and Monument of the Students' Revolution. Luckily pictures of these can be taken relatively easily, you can even leave your taxi briefly.

What to do in Colon, Panama


Watch the Panama Canal. Take a ride on the Panama Railway. Get acquainted with nature. Take an organized tour. Enjoy shopping.

What to eat and drink in Colon, Panama


Seafood soup is a great treat with three or four different types of fish in a tasty tomato base. Have with rice and fried plaintans with salsa. If you're not into seafood try the roasted chicken with rice or potatoes.

Shopping in Colon, Panama


There is a well stocked and cared for REY supermarket at Avenida Central, corner Calle 7 in the city center. You can park your car there as well. It's a good starting point for exploring the city center.
  • La Zona Libre. A walled compound within Colón, and the second largest free trade zone in the world after Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it is not aimed at tourists but to wholesalers, so it's not the shopping paradise you might imagine. If you're a foreign tourist and just buy a bottle of perfume or an iPod or something like that while you're in the Zona Libre, that's fine, but you will NOT be allowed to leave with big bags full of stuff.

Safety in Colon, Panama


Colon is considered a dangerous city. If you want to visit the city center you should stick to the REY supermarket at the Avenida Central, corner Calle 7 and the Washington Hotel. Those places aren't more dangerous than other places in Panama.

Language spoken in Colon, Panama


Spanish is the official language. Only 14% speak English.

LOCAL TIME

8:44 pm
November 11, 2019
America/Panama

CURRENT WEATHER

27.49 °C / 81.482 °F
moderate rain
Wed

26.96 °C/81 °F
heavy intensity rain
Thu

27.01 °C/81 °F
light rain
Fri

27.02 °C/81 °F
moderate rain
Sat

27.21 °C/81 °F
moderate rain

LOCAL CURRENCY

PAB

1 USD = 0 PAB
1 EUR = 0 PAB
1 GBP = 0 PAB
1 AUD = 0 PAB
1 CAD = 0 PAB

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