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About 50 miles northwest of Panama City, Colón is home to the northern gateway of the Panama Canal as well as Afro-Caribbean descendants of those workers who helped build the canal in the early 20th century. Colón’s greatest claim to fame—and the main reason visitors come here—is the Colón Free Zone, a massive shopping showroom where wholesalers, retailers and the general public shop. You’ll also find Colón 2000, a cruise-ship port with restaurants, a supermarket, and shops selling duty-free merchandise. The most scenic way to travel here is by way of the restored Panama Canal Railway, featuring elegant, wood-paneled and carpeted rail cars (based on 19th century designs) that takes you on a hour-long journey through the rainforest to Colón.