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France Square

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

C. 2a Oeste 85-81, Panamá, Provincia de Panamá, Panama

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Gusde
Local tour guide
"Visit Plaza Francia in the late afternoon to catch the golden hour that illuminates the historic architecture beautifully, making it an ideal time for photographers. Also, check out the artisan market that sets up nearby; it's a great place to find unique, handcrafted souvenirs that aren't available in the usual tourist shops."

What is Plaza Francia?

Plaza Francia, nestled in the historic quarter of Panama City, known as Casco Viejo, is far more than just an open space to locals and those in the know. This elegantly constructed plaza pays homage to the French endeavors in building the Panama Canal and serves as both a remembrance and celebration of that effort. Overlooking the Pacific entrance to the canal, the plaza features a striking obelisk and surrounding statues dedicated to the French engineers who put forth immense dedication and suffered great losses during their time in Panama. Given this backstory, it's a place imbued with historical significance, but also offers a chance to slow down and appreciate the sweeping views of the modern city juxtaposed against the sea.

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History of Plaza Francia

The Plaza Francia was originally known as the Paseo de las Bóvedas, deriving the name from the nearby sea wall and vaults that were once part of the city's fortifications. It was redesigned and inaugurated in 1922 to honor the French contribution to the Panama Canal, which was a monumental project of its era. The original plans were conceived and initiated by the French under Ferdinand de Lesseps but were later completed by the Americans after the French faced insurmountable challenges and had to abandon the project. At this site, one can sense the layers of history, from Spanish colonial times through to the pivotal era of early 20th-century engineering.

Why is Plaza Francia Important?

Why is this plaza, with its French name and legacy, so critical to our understanding of Panamanian history and culture? Firstly, it symbolizes international cooperation, acknowledging the role that France played in one of the most significant engineering feats that the world has seen. The Plaza Francia is a solemn reminder of the thousands of lives lost during the canal's construction, due to diseases like malaria and accidents. Secondly, it demonstrates the resilient spirit of Panama, transitioning from a point of struggle to a vibrant community space that binds the past with the present. The plaza serves as a cultural bridge and is a poignant spot for reflection amidst the bustling city life.

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Things to Do & See at Plaza Francia

Paying a visit to Plaza Francia offers a multitude of experiences. Take a leisurely stroll along the Paseo de las Bóvedas, where you will see local artisans displaying their crafts, and the city's oldest fortifications provide a rustic charm to your walk. The Obelisk Mausoleum at the plaza’s center is a must-see as it is topped with a Gallic Rooster, a national symbol of France, and is surrounded by busts of notable French canal engineers. You could also visit the adjacent Museum of the Canal to deepen your understanding of the canal's history.

Plaza Francia isn't just a place of history; it's a living part of the city. Frequent cultural events and festivals are held here, filling the space with music, dance, and local flavor. As evening approaches, the plaza becomes an enchanting spot where you can capture the sunset over the city skyline. The view from the walkway atop the sea wall is particularly breathtaking, perfect for those looking to capture a quintessential Panama City photograph. And, if you're interested in local gastronomy, the surrounding area of Casco Viejo is renowned for its vibrant dining scene, ranging from street food to gourmet restaurants. Plaza Francia is truly a gateway to a rich, sensory experience.

Frequently asked questions

What is Plaza Francia and where is it located?

Plaza Francia is a public square located in the historic district of Casco Viejo in Panama City. It is known for its significance in commemorating French efforts in the construction of the Panama Canal.

What is the historical significance of Plaza Francia?

Plaza Francia honors the French contribution to the construction of the Panama Canal, particularly the initial failed attempt led by Ferdinand de Lesseps before the United States took over the project.

What are some notable features of Plaza Francia?

Notable features of Plaza Francia include an obelisk topped with a rooster symbolizing French nationality, a series of plaques commemorating the French citizens who died during the canal construction, and surrounding colonial architecture.

Are there guided tours available at Plaza Francia?

Guided tours are available in Casco Viejo and may include Plaza Francia as one of the stops. Tourists can learn about the history and significance of the square and its monuments from knowledgeable guides.

What are some nearby attractions to Plaza Francia in Panama City?

Nearby attractions to Plaza Francia include the Panama Canal Museum, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama, and other historical sites within Casco Viejo, such as the Church of San Jose and the National Theatre.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

C. 2a Oeste 85-81, Panamá, Provincia de Panamá, Panama

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps