Casco Viejo’s History and Architect

Reminiscent of the French Quarter of New Orleans or perhaps Havana, Casco Viejo is the oldest city on the pacific coast of the Americas, at the mouth of the Panama Canal just minutes outside of Panama City.

It is a quiet, charming district of narrow streets, over-looked by the flower bedecked balconies of two and three story houses. At its tip lies French Park, a monument to the French builders who began the Panama Canal and the lovely French Embassy.  


On the walkway around the monument, you will have a view of the Amador Causeway and Bridge of the Americas, and of the Panama City’s skyscraper skyline to the east.

Panama City, like many cities, has torn down lots of its stately homes in past decades to make way for concrete high-rise apartments. But Casco Viejo, or San Felipe, as the locals call it, was saved. Founded in 1673, it retains the architectural influence of the Neoclassical, the French, the Spanish Colonial, and even the Art Deco periods. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, together with a government restoration project that same year, it is positioned to become a major world destination. It is no wonder, that Casco is the focal point of Panamanian architectural history.

 

Historical Architectural Attractions

Some excellent museums are found in Casco, including the Coral Museum, which traces Panama’s history as the route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific from pre-Hispanic to modern times.

Adjacent to this you will find the museum of National History and the old Cathedral, with gleaming spires inlaid with mother-of-pearls. 

Close by is a small museum dedicated to religious art, found in the old Santo Domingo Monastery, where you can also see the famous Flat Arch, which reportedly helped convince engineers that Panama, was in fact, earthquake proof.

Casco is also where you will find the president’s palace and the mayor’s home. Ruben Blades, Panama’s most celebrated entertainer, also keeps a residence here, as do many of the country’s most prominent artists.

Incentive Law for Casco Viejo

Signs of private investment prompted by the government incentives are everywhere. You do not walk far without passing a restored building or one in process of renovation. There’s an almost “land rush” feel to condominium development in the area, and new rental units and commercial space are under construction. Some of the benefits offered as an incentive are as follows:


 
A system of mortgage loans with preferred interests is established for the restoration of real estate in the area of San Felipe.

The property owners in Casco Antiguo will be exempt from paying the Real Estate Tax owed at the moment of the transfer (sale) of the property.

The profits derived from the transfer of real estate will be exempt from paying the Income Tax.

The land and improvements of restored buildings will be exempt from paying the Real Estate Tax for a period of thirty (30) years counted as from the restoration of the property.


The first sale or sales that take place after the completion of the building´s restoration will be exempt from the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

The profits generated by commercial, professional or industrial activities which are carried out and have their effects in the Casco Antiguo, are exempt from the Income Tax for ten (10) years counted from the restoration of the occupied property.

The equipment and materials used in the construction, restoration, and equipping, will be exempt from the Import Duties.

The tenants of the properties in Casco Antiguo can deduct from their Income Tax the rates of rental for a period of five (5) years.
Those buildings destined for public parking will be exempt from the Income Tax for a period of ten (10) years.

If you are interested in investing in Panama’s red- hot market, do not overlook the beautiful historical architectural culture, together with the vast incentives offered by the government, that Casco Viejo has to offer—you will be astonished!
 
 



 
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