Chitré (pronounced chee-TRE) is the capital of Herrera, one of the nine Panamanian provinces. 3.5 hours (a $6.00 bus ride) from Panama City, Chitré forms part of the Azuero Peninsula, a region known for its charming, mellow, colonial feel and essence of Panamanian roots. On foot, one can tour the ¨city¨ center of plazas, avenues, churches, parks, modest homes, small shops, food stands, bakeries and in-town anthropology museum, Museo de la Herrera. Many older men, natives to the region, go about their daily business in large straw hats, highlighting the agricultural foundation of the area. Locals sit on their porches and in plazas, reflecting a slower pace of life.
Many larger supermarkets and all-inclusive stores including national superstore chain El Machetazo and Panama´s Home Depot, Do-It-Center, have sprouted up in the area in the past few years. Tradition has accommodated the economic boom pervading the country, and plentiful services from restaurants and lodging form a balance with the colonial charm of the region.
Chitré´s Holy Week is a beautiful representation of historic religious traditions with social and cultural customs, through processions, reenactments, flooded masses and extreme reverence. The five-day celebrations of Carnival are highly symbolic of the heart of Panamanian tradition in Chitré, as in neighboring city of Las Tablas, transforming Chitré´s center with thousands of Panama City-natives and foreigners alike for music, contests, dancing and parades. The celebration of San Juan Bautista, patron saint and resident cathedral, highlights typical dances, horseback riding and parades. Local parades and November´s patriotic festivities are also events worth visiting in Chitré.
Los chitreanos are renowned for their hospitality and generosity, living up to their city motto: ¨la ciudad donde nadie es forastero:¨ the city where no one is a stranger. A pleasant experience, Chitré teaches all who visit about Panamanian culture.