Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Panama - Casa de los Genoveses del Conjunto Monumental Histórico de Panamá la Vieja (House of the Genovese of the Old Panama Historical Monumental Complex)

This house was the property of Genovese merchants Domingo Grillo and Ambrosio Lomelín and it was the trading site of enslaved Africans. The house had its main facade to the Calafates Street and another facade without doors towards an open space known as puerto plaza.

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The foundation of Panama was the result of the interest of the Spanish Crown to control the route to the Orient and find a passage to the Moluccas. However, after explorations of the Pacific coast, Panama became the place for imperial opening and expansion that allowed the conquest by way of the Pacific Ocean. It was also a key city for the traffic of people from Africa, who from there were mobilized to different places in the colonies. The city of Panama had the suburban neighbourhoods of Malambo and Pierdevidas, which were inhabited mainly by a population of African origin who resided permanently in the city.

Towards the end of the 17th century, Domingo Grillo and Ambrosio Lomelín appointed some of their more capable agents in the city of Panama. The city served as a transit port for at least 60% of the enslaved Africans that were sold in the Spanish colonies for the duration of the contract established between the Spanish Crown and Grillo and Lomelin.

The House of the Genovese, as it is known today, was the place were the commercial network of Grillo and Lomelin was established, and it was one of the most important buildings in the Old City of Panama. Inside the inner courtyard there was an infirmary, which cared for the enslaved persons arriving in Portobelo very sick after the rough voyage from Africa. However, historical documents suggest that most of the diseased persons who were admitted did not come out alive from the House of the Genovese.  

The upper part of the house had windows with a view of the Pacific to the east, the Royal Houses to the south, the Cathedral to the west and the Infirmary to the north. This allowed them to control the ships that arrived and those that departed, as well as the traffic of persons.   

The House of the Genovese is part of the monumental complex of Old Panama, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1997, with extension on 2003. Today Old Panama is one of the most important archaeological and historical sites of Panama.  



Easy access. The vestiges of Old Panama are within the City of Panama, on the Cincuentenario Road, in the sector of Lefevre Park
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Other data of interest


Historical name

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Panamá (Our Lady of the Assumption of Panama)

Founding Date

1519 August 15


Vía Cincuentenario – Centro de Visitantes, a un costado de la Estatua de Morelos (Vía Cincuentenario – Visitor’s Centre, next to the Sculpture of Morelos)   , PC: 0823-05096, Panamá .

Phone numbers

(+507) 226-8915 / 226-9364 / 226-1757

Fax number

(+507) 226-8915 / 226-9364 / 226-1757

Responsible entity

Board of Old Panama; National Institute of Culture of Panama

Management plan

Web link




Inscribed on the World Heritage List


Settlement Slave market Port of landing

Access level


Current Use

Part of the archaeological site

Original use

Dwelling and infirmary

Property kind



Canto Rodado

Scientific publication published annually for the dissemination of information on heritage. It includes professional articles by local and foreign scholars.


Other publications

Panamá Viejo: de la aldea la urbe (Old Panama: from village to city)

A book on heritage and the history of Old Panama. It highlights projects implemented in collaboration with the Spanish International Cooperation Agency.

Sociedad, economía y cultura material (Society, Economy and Tangible Culture)

A book comprising the complete history of the first settlement of Panama City, since its foundation in 1519 until its destruction in 1671.