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Is it Dangerous in Casco Antiguo / Casco Viejo ?
People sometimes ask "Is it dangerous in Casco Viejo?". The thing is that in travel guide books such as Lonely Planet, and on some websites, you may see perfectly reasonable-sounding warnings about the dangers of walking around in Casco Antiguo / Casco Viejo, the old city, that part of Panama City which is of some antiquity. As it's Panama, the answer is more interesting and multi-faceted when there than it is seems at a distance.
Casco Viejo is a place of intriguing old-style Latin-American architecture, and this has been preserved. It is almost like being in a theatre setting, with a kind of other-worldly quality to it. Difficult to draw parallels, but in the sort of way old Havana has been left in a previous time by isolation, and Venice has considerable efforts made to keep its old buildings and style, the old part of Panama City is preserved in such a way to keep the appearance of a city from a previous age.
Tourists are keen to see this, and it's a popular place to visit.
So, is it dangerous? The problem is, if you look at old statistical data and lump everything together, then yes it is dangerous. However, this isn't the true picture. I have a much better answer, based on the local knowledge of property agents who actually know the area. Apparently, Street1 is where property is most expensive, like in St Tropez where it's more expensive near the waterfront. Street2 is also quite expensive, and then, as the numbers go up, further from the waterfront, the property is less expensive. The whole area is going upmarket, so the desire to perform quality restoration is apparent in streets further and further back from the waterfront as time goes on. At the time of writing (2008/07), Street13 to 14 is about where the line is, and presumably in the higher numbered streets, the relative risk associated with walking around at night with a "steal me" watch is higher. There is also a commercial district to the West of the region, and to the East there is the area of greatest risk. I don't know how high the danger in that area is, but the point is that it skews the statistics. In any of these considerations, it is always much more dangerous at night, and relatively safer in the daytime.
Yet again, with Panama the risks viewed at a distance appear different to those which you'd experience at a local level, especially if you knew in advance what the facts were.
If you're going to risk investing your money in a property restoration project in Casco Viejo, then on average you're probably on a good thing, as the value tends to increase. However, let's not make the same mistake with lumping everything together and making a generalised assumption. The key feature of this is that knowledge makes the big difference. You have to know what you're doing, so you don't come a cropper. I tell you, if I was going to invest in property in Casco Viejo, I know where I'd go: Knightsbridge Investment Panama. They have knowledge and integrity, and that makes a big difference. - was http://www.knightsbridgeinvest-panama.com
It's also worth knowing that the planning rules are quite different in different parts of Casco Viejo, and different again from the rest of Panama. It's best to find these things out before a project than during the middle of it.
In terms of risks to tourists, it would be handy to have a crime map, with contour lines demarking areas of increasing dangerousness. If I was underwriting your travel insurance (which I hasten to add, I'm not), I'd give you a better discount in some areas than others!
Other Casco Viejo contacts:
Casco Viejo Spanish School
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* Real websites, that is. We will have nothing to do with Facebook , obviously! Real websites are independent and are not controlled by "part of the problem" corporations.