Vasco Núñez de Balboa
Situated along Balboa Avenue, is the Vasco Núñez de Balboa’s statue, a historical monument paying tribute to the Spanish adventurer and first European to glimpse the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Holding the Spanish flag in his left hand and a sword with his right, the Vasco Núñez de Balboa bronze statue overlooks Panama Bay. The statute is held by a sculpture of four nude men which represent the four human races.
The statue was sculpted by Miguel Blau and Mariano Benlliure and later donated by King Alfonso XIII of Spain to the Republic of Panama. With representatives of some 15 Latin American countries present, President Belisario Porras inaugurated the monument on September 29, 1924.
The park is popular with locals and foreigners alike. From the park you can shoot nice photos of Punta Paitilla’s high-rise buildings to the left, and Casco Viejo to the right.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475-1519) was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador. He is best known for having crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific Ocean in 1513, becoming the first European to lead an expedition to have seen or reached the Pacific Ocean from the New World.
Balboa started his journey across the Isthmus of Panama on September 1, 1513, together with 190 Spaniards, a few native guides, and a pack of dogs. After traveling more than 110 kilometers (68 miles), he arrived at the Pacific Ocean on September 29, the feast day of the archangel Michael. He named the new sea Mar del Sur, since they had traveled south to reach it. Ferdinand Magellan later renamed the body of water the Pacific Ocean because of its calm waters.
In 1518, Pedro Arias de Ávila or Pedrarias the Cruel charged Balboa with treason, arrested him and had him beheaded.