Panama City, Jan 12 (EFE).- Panama’s Colonial Transisthmian Route, which aspires to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has historical value not only for the Central American country and the Americas, but also for the world. For this reason, authorities are working on a long-term management plan that involves an inter-institutional team for its restoration and conservation.
“Part of the effort is that all this is understood as a system, that it is not a series of isolated sites but that they make up a system,” said Nilson Ariel Espino, who is in charge of preparing the Colonial Transisthmian Route management plan, in an interview with EFE.
He added that “the historical and patrimonial value of the route was developed as a system of sites, roads and routes, which were responsible for a very important chapter in the history not only of Panama and America, but of the world.”
The management plan for the route, which is to last 15 years and be managed by an inter-institutional team, is a set of actions for the restoration, conservation and adaptation of the historic sites of the Colonial Transisthmian Route, which is to be proposed for UNESCO World Heritage status.
The route is made up of the Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and the Historic District of Panama (World Heritage since 1997), the Fortifications of the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo and San Lorenzo (World Heritage since 1980 and on the list of World Heritage in Danger since 2012), and the colonial roads that link them: the Cruces Road and the Royal Road.
The institutions have already agreed on the document to create the management system and the process of collecting signatures from the representatives of the entities continues, Panama’s Ministry of Culture has said.
A TOURIST ATTRACTION
“What the management plan is about” is to prepare the sites on the route “to receive visitors, to be sites for education, entertainment and tourism,” Espino explained.
The expert emphasized that the management plan contains “different types of initiatives: restoration of monuments, education, research, historical and archeological.”
And “they must also be prepared for visitors to enjoy, they must be complemented with museums, exhibitions, models, displays, signs, how to navigate the site, educational programs for the surrounding communities, economic development programs.”
Specifically, “it is the whole range that goes from maintaining a monument, restoring it, correcting deficiencies in case they are subject to landslides, protecting it against natural disasters, against sea level rise, but also all the tasks for education and promotion, and improving the experience for both domestic and foreign visitors.”
“The idea is for the route to be one of the most important tourist attractions in the country and to be one more landmark for Panama and what it has to offer to tourism,” he said.
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF CONSERVATION OF THE MONUMENTS
Some of the management plan actions are “for the site as a whole” and others are “specific for each component” since they vary because each monument has “a different level of conservation”, said Espino.
“There are some in relatively good condition, which have a fairly long history of restoration, such as Panama Viejo; and others that are being seen now, such as the roads. There are others that have shortcomings, such as the Fort of San Lorenzo and Portobelo, which are subject to significant public investment,” he explained.
San Lorenzo and Portobelo, a set of colonial fortresses on the shores of Panama’s Caribbean coast, “were on the list of endangered heritage sites and deserved more urgent action”, that is why they are under “ambitious projects”. As an example, the “San Lorenzo Castle plan costs almost 5 million dollars,” said the expert.
The Cruces and Royal Roads, Panama’s historic routes that connected the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean during colonial times, “are relatively well preserved because they are part of national parks, although they have not been taken care of.”
Panama Viejo, the historic center of Panama City (1519), has a “more positive history” because “works have been carried out for more than 20 years and it is in very good condition,” Espino said.
There is a similar situation for Panama City’s old town, the second site of the city in colonial times, because “the private sector has been dynamically active and the state has a works program,” he added. EFE