A small plaza surrounded by 19th-century architecture, this is one of the Casco Viejo's most pleasant spots, especially at night, when people gather at its various cafés for drinks and dinner, and street musicians perform for tips. It's centered around a monument to the Venezuelan general Simón Bolívar, the ""Liberator of Latin America,"" with decorative friezes marking events of his life and an Andean condor perched above him. In 1926 Bolívar organized a meeting of
independence with leaders from all over Latin America in the Franciscan monastery in front of the plaza, which in the end, he was unable to attend. The original San Francisco Church was destroyed by fire in the 18th century and restored twice in the 20th century. The church is only open for Mass on Sunday evening, and the former monastery is now occupied by a Catholic school. Across the plaza from it, on the corner of Avenida B and Calle 4, is the smaller church, the Iglesia de San Felipe de Neri, which was recently restored but only opens two days a year—on Good Friday and the saint's feast day, May 26. The Hotel Colombia, across the street from it, was one of the country's best when it opened its doors in 1937, but it fell into neglect during the late 20th century until it was renovated in the 1990s and converted to luxury apartments.
Av. B between Calles 3 and 4, Panama City, Panama