A little more than six miles east of the Casco Viejo lie the ruins of Panamá la Vieja (“the old Panama City”), a compound of historical monuments marking where it all started, five centuries ago. The area served as the Spanish Empire’s military, traffic, and trade nerve center until 1671, when Captain Henry Morgan and his pirates destroyed it. Today the remains form a 70-acre park with marked paths for a self-guided walking tour and a museum. Don’t miss the old cathedral belfry, one of Panama’s architectural icons; climb its 115 stairs to the lookout and take in a panoramic view of the city. Smart travelers plan their visit for the late afternoon, when the heat starts to abate.