Volcan, Proposed New City Center.

David Dell

By David Dell

If the proposed plan by architect firm Arosemena & Soundy of Panama City becomes reality, then the city of Volcan will see the biggest change in its short history. Volcan, was originally called Hato de Volcan and was little more than a gathering place for cattle. On the 30th November 1924, the Village was formed and named Baru, later modified to Volcan. The altitude at the main street is 4,500 feet.

NOTE: Artists renderings with acknowledgement to architects: AROSEMENA & SOUNDY, Panama City.

Cultural center drawing

On December 29, 1928 the National Assembly authorized the expropriation of 500 hectares, this allowed the building of the city on a grid system with a rather strange axis of North West to South East. On September 13, 2013, Volcan became the head of the 5 areas that now comprise the District of the Highlands.

Cultural center drawing

One of the artist’s renditions is that of musicians performing outdoors in one of the city center’s plazas. We have many local performers who would, I am sure, give their eye teeth to strut their stuff in front of a crowd of several hundred visitors.

City center drawing

The project is estimated to cost over $15 million dollars and will include a cultural center, a new market, government buildings, plazas and shopping.

One of the principals that the architects have stated on their website is that they build and design with permanence in mind. This I am sure will be welcomed by locals and the English speaking community. Volcan, at the moment does not have a single building of any great architectural significance. Personally, I like the designs I have seen so far as I think we will finally have a town that both the architects and the locals can be justifiably proud of. The architects say they want to link the past, present and future in designs that are timeless and will last for generations.

City center plans

Elred Wetli statue

There is a place in the design that accomodates the most outstanding local citizen; a former Benedictine monk called Elred Wetli. From 1963 until his death in 2009, Elred dedicated his life to teaching the children of the area the English language. The proposal is for a statue of him to be erected on the plaza of the existing police station.

Barilles stones

Another proposed feature will be a museum. If this comes about then there are plans to ask for the return of the famous Barilles stones back to Chiriqui. These ancient and historic stones and statues possibly date back over 2,000 years and their display in the museum will certainly enhance the tourist potential of the town.

Barilles stone

Tourist center map

Talking of tourism; the projections are that some 300,000 people could visit the area in the future. This will be a boon for all of our struggling restaurants. As an aid to that projection a tourist reception center is also planned as part of the project.

Ten years ago I went out into Volcan with my camera looking for some postcard shots for this website. Lamentably, there was a distinct lack of “Kodak” moments in the Volcan of that day. The future however, looks quite different. We at yourpanama.com believe that this little town of ours is the “Best Little Town in Panama” and soon it will look exactly like that.


The big question. My sources tell me that acquiring all the property needed for the development, has a slight snag. Just two hold-outs of property owners are left. Most of the site has already been cleared. When all the property has been bought then we can expect things to get underway.

Stay tuned for updates.

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