Fun and Interesting Things about Panama (II)

(Part 2)

As promised, we are happy to continue our brief introduction to the history of Panama.

Eight years after Columbus left Panama , Vasco Nuñez de Balboa was one of the founders of Santa María La Antigua, located in the Atlantic coast of Darien Province in 1510. This was the first city in the American Continent and was the Capital of the Castilla de Oro territory until the foundation of Panama “La Vieja” by Pedro Dávila in 1519, and shortly after Santa María La Antigua was abandoned by the Spaniards and burned down by the local tribes.

Panama “La Vieja” became the Capital of Castilla de Oro, from which departed the expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire of Peru in 1532. By 1541 the city had a population of about 4000 people.

It was not until 1597 that Portobelo was founded, just about 95 years after Columbus discovered the beautiful bay where the city was built. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Portobelo played an important role in the exportation of silver and gold from the colonies to Spain.

The precious metals, which arrived at Panama “La Vieja” from Peru were transported on mules across the isthmus through the Camino Real de Cruces, a stone paved pathway from Panama “La Vieja”, on the Pacific Ocean, to Portobelo, on the Atlantic Ocean.

San Lorenzo Spanish Fort and Chagres River, Colon province / Fuerte de San Lorenzo y el rio Chagres, Provincia de Colon

There was also an alternative route transported by mules through the Camino Real de Cruces from Panama “La Vieja” to the Chagres River floated down river to the Atlantic Ocean and to Portobelo. Construction on San Lorenzo Fort was started in 1598 and completed in 1601. This fort dominated the entrance to the Chagres River.

The ruins of Panama “La Vieja” and the Portobelo and San Lorenzo forts have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as recognition of its historical and cultural values they are truly part of the Patrimony of Humanity.

With your support, we will continue our brief history of Panama in our next presentation.

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