Gabriel Btesh shares his visions for the future prosperity of Panama City.
The history of Panama City, the capital and largest city of Panama, is long and storied. As Gabriel Btesh works to help create a better future for all Panamanians, he looks back to this history in order to have a better frame of reference for the deserved fortunes that are to present themselves to the citizens of Panama City.
In 1519, over 500 years ago, Panama City was originally founded by Pedro Arias de Avila (also known as Pedrarias Davila). It stood for over 150 years, until 1671 when a Welsh pirate known as Henry Morgan sacked the city with a band of 1,400 men. The city was laid siege to and destroyed by fire. No more than two years later, in 1673, the city was rebuilt about five miles away from the original site of Panama City. Gabriel Btesh points out that the Panamanian’s tenacity and willingness to build and grow has long roots in the city’s history.
Gabriel Btesh wishes to continue this brave tradition of building up to create prosperity. After taking over the family business from his father, Jack Btesh, Gabriel Btesh helped create one of the preeminent construction companies in the modern age. Responsible for several of the tallest buildings in Panama City, and indeed all of Central America, Gabrial Btesh also places a heavy focus on utilizing high-quality materials and providing the most modern amenities and safety features for all who reside in the buildings he’s had a hand in.
The ruins of Old Panama, commonly known as Panama Viejo or Panama la Vieja, are still able to be visited today. The ruins serve as a reminder of what once was, how far the Panamanian people have come, and give visitors the opportunity to pay their respects to the past. Panama la Vieja wasn’t just destroyed in one night: it weathered a series of several fires in the years beforehand, and in 1620, survived an earthquake that damaged a large portion of the city’s buildings.
The section of the city that was built in 1673 following the destruction of Panama la Vieja—the first section of what would eventually become the modern-day Panama City—is now known as Casco Viejo (English for “old town”, it is also called Casco Antiguo or San Felipe). It was originally conceived as a walled city and now acts as a historic district, showcasing the first buildings ever built for the modern city of Panama. In 1997, Casco Viejo was designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Centre.
Gabriel Btesh points out that to this day, the people of Panama are focused on building their city and their culture to new heights while not forgetting their history and heritage. The modern skyscrapers mesh with the historic sites and monuments of days past and paint a picture quite unlike any other city in the world.