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The Colonial Transisthmian Route to aid Panama’s cultural revaluation

Panama City, Mar 20 (EFE) – The anticipated addition of the Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panama to UNESCO’s World Heritage list promises to rejuvenate the nation’s cultural and historical identity as the “Bridge of the World” and spur comprehensive growth and tourism in the area, according to Panamanian Culture Minister Giselle González Vilarrué.

The Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panama is an engaging journey through time, encompassing the Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and the Historic District of Panama (World Heritage since 1997), the Caribbean Coast’s Fortifications of Panama: Portobelo and San Lorenzo (listed as Heritage in Danger since 2012), and the captivating colonial paths that connect them: the Camino de Cruces and the Camino Real.

Panama’s ambitious strategy for UNESCO registration involves a phased nomination process, with the first phase submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in February.


Minister González told EFE that the UNESCO World Heritage distinction signifies “an acknowledgment of the immense cultural, historical, and architectural value” of these sites.

“Our Colonial Transisthmian Route embodies a crucial chapter in global history, shaping our nation’s mission as the ‘Bridge to the World,’ a vital crossroads of connectivity,” she emphasized.

“The sites recognized for having exceptional universal values contribute to the continuous revaluation of cultures and identities, grant international prestige to the country, in addition to allowing for integral development, where natural and cultural tourist assets provide economic sustainability to management and research tasks,” she added

Moreover, the designation fosters “a public, private and citizen commitment” for the “conservation and development” of the site, “the identity of the place is reinforced and a new tourist attraction is added, complementing the current offer” in Panama.


In July 2019, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee deferred the inscription of the Colonial Transisthmian Route pending a revised proposal addressing several recommendations.

Among other concerns, the Committee requested a proposal justifying the route’s Outstanding Universal Value and ensuring long-term financial sustainability for site conservation and management through proper funding allocation.

Minister González confirmed that the revised proposal now showcases the route’s universal values through “new studies and archaeological and historical research” conducted by the country’s scientific team at the Center for Historical, Anthropological, and Cultural Research (CIHAC-AIP).

Furthermore, she highlighted, “an inter-institutional system was created for the management of the serial asset, which was accompanied by a Comprehensive Management Plan for the entire Colonial Transisthmian Route, thus complying with the UNESCO requirements established in 2019.”

“The management system has created an inter-institutional committee” with the function of “ensuring that public investments in the environment and within the properties inscribed on the World Cultural Heritage List are aligned with the approved management plans.”

This committee must also promote, coordinate, and monitor the allocation and development of projects for conservation, maintenance, promotion, support infrastructure, public services, security, education, and others that affect the Route, she explained.

With all these measures in place, González assured that “the sources of state financing for the sites are protected.”

“Panama has great tangible and intangible cultural potential, which is why this Administration has stood out for highlighting them and putting them in value,” she said. EFE



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