Panama Travel and Investment Resource
Recommended Sites (advertise with us)
- Los Cuatro Tulipanes is Matt's apartment rentals in the historic district of Casco Viejo
- Las Clementinas is Matt's recommended 6-room boutique hotel in Panama City, Panama
- The Canal House is Matt's favorite restored guesthouse in the historic district of Panama City, Panama
- Panama Vacation Rentals is Matt's go-to place to find rentals in Panama
- United Country - Panama is Matt’s favorite agency to find premier properties all over Panama
Parita, the oldest settlement in the Azuero Peninsula, celebrated its 450th birthday August 18, 2008. Its rich history, not to mention its friendly, fun-loving residents, make it an attractive destination for the growing number of visitors to the region. Moreover, itâ€™s located on the Carretera Nacional, only 15 minutes north of the city of ChitrÃ©, where a number of quality lodging and dining options can be found.
This charming, tranquil village was founded in 1558, and itâ€™s one of the only towns in the interior of Panama with a traditional Spanish style central plaza. Parita is a trip back in time for anyone desiring a glimpse of what Panama looked like in centuries past.
In 1926, Paritaâ€™s plaza, the surrounding houses, and the church, Iglesia Santo Domingo de Guzman, were declared national historical monuments by the Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INAC) and it seems little has changed since then. Houses maintain their typical colonial architecture, with red clay tile roofs that help keep PariteÃ±os cool and are far more pleasing to the eye than zinc.
During the townâ€™s patron saint celebrations in the first week of August, cattle roping demonstrations are held in the plaza, filling the arcades of the surrounding homes with spectators.
The remarkable church, named for patron saint Domingo de Guzman, was completed in 1723. It is the only church in Panama with its steeple located directly over its entrance rather than one of the corners. This is unusual because bell towers are extremely heavy and therefore are generally built on pillars that rest upon a massive foundation. While otherwise appearing quite simple, its interior has an elaborately carved pulpit plus a number of lavish baroque altars dating from the 17th century.
Parita is a town that likes to party and none is bigger than the carnival celebrations held in February in the days leading up to Lent. While festivities in nearby ChitrÃ© and Las Tablas attract more visitors, Paritaâ€™s spacious plaza makes it an appealing choice for those seeking a slightly more laid back atmosphere. But make no mistake, itâ€™s still a serious party, just without the surging crowds and pickpockets.
One of Paritaâ€™s most culturally unique celebrations is its Corpus Cristi festival in May. Readers may recognize it from the elaborate and colorful devil masks one often finds for sale in Panamaâ€™s artisan shops. Dancers don these masks and brilliant costumes while depicting the biblical story of the battle between the devil and Archangel Michael.
Dario Lopez, one of the nationâ€™s top mask makers, has been producing his extraordinary creations in Parita since the 1970s. You can pay him a visit at his home and workshop on the Carretera Nacional, about 100 meters north of the Shell gas station on the opposite side of the street.
Just outside of Parita, the Parque Nacional de Sarigua is a testament to the unfortunate methods of slash-and-burn agriculture practiced throughout the Azuero during the past 100 years. Deforested to create grazing land for cattle, the thin tropical soil was soon washed away, leaving an almost lunar landscape.
The rocky, wind-swept sands and deeply eroded gullies form an arid environment that is a stark contrast to the lush greenery found in other parts of the country. An ANAM ranger station provides information on the effects of deforestation and sweeping views of the bare landscape. The entrance is on the left side of the Carretera Nacional as one is leaving Parita headed south towards ChitrÃ©.
The Azuero Peninsula is the birthplace of many of Panamaâ€™s most famous traditions, but itâ€™s often overlooked by tourists and residents alike. Itâ€™s an easy addition to any travel agenda and Parita should surely not be missed!
Calendar of Events in Parita
Carnival: Feb. 20-24 (2009 dates)
Semana Santa: mid-March
Corpus Cristi: mid-June
Patron Saint Celebrations Aug. 3-8
Write the displayed characters
Copyright © 2011 The Panama Report All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.