|2012||In Danger||"site .. is deteriorating at a rate which could undermine the outstanding universal value for which it was inscribed."|
|1980||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Anthony Delgado (USA):
I just returned form a visit to Portobelo(Feb. 2011) The heavy rains have taken a toll on the whole area. The road to Portobelo, still had several damaged spots that slowed down traffic. The town of Portobelo had had several house destroyed by landslides with loss of lives. The Fort also suffered damage form the landslides. Parts of the wall had collapsed and huge tree trunk were still in the process of being removed. The site was undergoing repair and restoration. All in all, it is a beautiful site to visit.
Date posted: March 2011 ():
Portobelo is a nice site but nothing more than that. Trash, not well preserved, dangerous roads full of buses that run without any speed control. If you go there, go in dry season and beware of rural "diablos rojos" (red evil buses).
Portobelo is located around 45 minutes from the cruise port town of Colon. My family and I left early on a taxi and was able to reach the site before any other tourists. At first, the area looks like a typical run-down town but this feeling is instantly obliterated once you see the ruins of the forts. I only had time for a brief visit so I was not able to visit the well-preserved fort across the bay. The ruins I saw were in various states of preservation but they are still worthwhile. Unfortunately, they are not well maintained and trash can be seen everywhere. While not a highlight of Panama, I would definitely recommend a quick visit if time permits.
Paul Tanner (UK):
Panama has quite a lot going for it as a tourist destination – excellent bird watching and diving, the San Blas Islands (run as an autonomous province by the indigenous peoples), several colonial historical sites plus the incomparable Canal (which is not a WHS but should be even though it is not even on the Tentative list). If you have time it IS worth the detour to go the 50kms from Colon to Portobelo. This sleepy village was at one time a pivotal location within the Spanish Empire for the transport of gold to Europe, lying as it did at the Atlantic end of a stone highway from Panama City.
I quote :- “Portobelo was the port of entry and of exit for all of South America. The exchange of merchandise took place annually at Portobelo in the form of a fair which lasted from 30 to 60 days. During this time, this sleepy little place was a beehive of activity. Transactions frequently totaled from 10 to 12 million gold pesos. These fairs took place once each year until 1738 when, as a result of continual attacks by pirates, Spain was forced to abandon the Isthmian route for the longer but more secure one around Cape Horn. The frequent pirate attacks forced the Spaniards to adopt a convoy system. Each year two fleets of 40 to 70 ships sailed from Spain, one bound for Veracruz, the other for Portobelo. The arrival of the fleet signaled the opening of the great fair."
For the English (and perhaps for others too) this spot has the added interest of being the burial place for that well known “state supported” pirate Sir Frances Drake (he who “singed the king of Spain’s beard”)! In 1596, after a failed expedition to cross the Isthmus and raid Panama city for the gold which had been collected there for transportation to Europe, he died of dysentery and was buried at sea in a lead coffin.
As you will see from the photo, the ruins of the fort (then the height of military sophistication) are quite well preserved and the situation of the port among green islands and hills is very pleasant. Just relax, let your mind wander and try to imagine those far off days and the impact this place had on world history .
Have you been to Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo ? Share your experiences!