The Presidential Palace of Panama -

By Juan Carlos Martinez

There is a rich history for the official residence of the President of the Republic of Panama. This beautiful building known as The Palace of the Herons was built in 1673, and over the centuries it has seen many changes in how it was used, as well as structurally improved. Initially, it was a home for the then Spanish governor. After his departure, it was used as royal storage, as a school, as a Royal Court, as offices for the "Government House", and as the National Bank's headquarters. Currently, this beautiful, historical building is the Presidential Palace of Panama, home of Ricardo Martinelli and his family.

In 1821, when this region received independence from Spain, Colombia used it for the above many uses, (remember that Panama was a part of Columbia until 1903). It was not until 1855 this architectural jewel became a Presidential Palace.

palace front

After the engineered separation for Panama from Colombia by the United States in 1903, the building is still used as Panama headquarters of the Executive Branch and Presidential residence.

In 1922, reconstruction work began to bring the building back to its colonial architectural origins, and a second and third floor were added with the architectural skills of Villanueva-Meyer. President Belisario Parras was in power at this time and he brought in a pair of herons and then named it Palacio de las Garzas (Palace of the Heron's). Parras' friend and famed Panamanian poet Ricardo Miro, gave him the idea to do so, as the story goes.

Villanueva-Meyer started the project by remodeling the impressive "Hall of State", referred to as "The Yellow Room", the presidential dining room, and did a complete make over of the central courtyard. Additionally the creation of the Andaluz patio located on the second floor. A third floor was constructed to make "The Presidential Residence" which has beautiful Moorish rooms, magnificent balconies and expansive views of the city and sea.

Upon entering the palace, one finds the large courtyard after crossing through the old iron gates. The exquisite and unique imported marble floor, fountain, with columns of pearl and marble are a feast for the eye. Everywhere your eyes travel serenity prevails.

As you climb the stairs your greeted by five beautiful bronze statues created by Italian artist Gaetano Olivar, from Genoa, Italy and is estimated to be circa 1915. The artistic detail of the in niches along the wall frame the beauty of the statues and paintings.

The complex being right on the Bay of Panama and the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, shown below with the ship exiting the canal, gives you the more of the sense of its perfect position, size and grandeur.



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Copyright© 2011, Pan Am Publishing S.A., Republic of Panama