Portobelo is a historic port  in the Portobelo District, Colón Panama. It lies 20 nm from the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. Established in 1597 by the Spanish empire due to its deep natural harbor, it served as one of the two ports alongside Veracruz through which Spanish treasure was shipped from the mines of Peru back to Spain. The city was repeatedly captured by British privateers and pirates, culminating in a successful siege by the Royal Navy in 1739.

UNESCO designated the ruins of the Spanish colonial fortifications, along with nearby Fort San Lorenzo, as a World Heritage Site named “Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo”.


Portobelo was founded in 1597 by Spanish explorer Francisco Velarde y Mercado and quickly replaced Nombre de Dios as a Caribbean port for the transfer of Peruvian silver.

Sir Francis Drake died of dysentery in 1596 was buried in a lead coffin near Portobelo Bay, memorialised by the present Isla Drake at the entrance of the harbour.

The Spanish built an extensive network along the route of defensive fortifications.


In 1601 by the English privateer William Parker captured Portobello from the Spanish. Henry Morgan captured it in 1668 with a posse of 450 privateers to overcome its strong fortifications.
It was captured again in 1680 by pirate John Coxon.

In 1726 the British suffered a disaster in their Blockade of Porto Bello under Admiral Francis Hosier, an attempt to prevent the Spanish treasure fleet returning to Spain, when due to their lengthy wait and inactivity moored at Bastimentos to the northeast a significant portion of sailors died from tropical diseases. 13 years later during the War of Jenkins’ Ear the port was captured on November 21, 1739, by a British fleet of six ships commanded by Admiral Edward Vernon. Across the British Isles the name of “Portobello” was given to places and streets in honor of the victory, most notably Portobello Road in London.


The Spanish soon recovered Portobelo when in 1741 they defeated the British in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias and forced Vernon to return to England with a decimated fleet, having suffered more than 18,000 casualties. British efforts to gain a foothold on the Spanish Main and disrupt the galleon trade were ultimately fruitless. A change in tactics by the Spanish as they switched from using large fleets calling to small fleets trading at a wide variety of ports allowing them to develop flexibility that made them less subject to attack. Their vessels also began to travel around Cape Horn to trade directly at ports on the western coast.

Old Chart pf Portobelo

Portobello was integrated via these Spanish trading Routes
spanish trading routes


Festival del Cristo Negro

Panama for its celebration of the Festival del Cristo Negro which takes place on October 21. During this festival, thousands of Panamanians travel to Portobelo and head to the Church of San Felipe, which houses the life-size wooden sculpture of the Black Christ. Christo Negro

Portobelo is renowned throughout The Black Christ is bathed in legend, some of which describe it being marooned in Portobelo by sailors while en route to Colombia. Another legend says that on October 21, 1821 the residents of Portobelo prayed to the Black Christ to be spared from a cholera epidemic that was sweeping Panama—and they were
.Christo Negro

Festival de Diablos y Congos
Danza de Diablos y Congos:

It’s a festival of celebration and rebellion: Every year in February, the port city of Portobelo, Panama holds the “Festival de Diablos y Congos.” It’s a unique local take on the widespread Carnival tradition, a five-day party with no shortage of loudspeakers, dancing — and devils wielding whips.

Danza de Diablos y Congos:

The Casa de la Cultura Congo is an open public space that hosts workshops and the creation of arts and crafts. Focusing on Congo art, the mission of the Casa de la Cultura Congo is to exalt and express the importance of the colonial Latin and African legacy in Portobelo, by bringing those traditions to life through different creative expressions.

Danza de Diablos y Congos:


Outside of the town, there is a small, scenic beach known as Playa Blanca. It’s at the tip of a peninsula and only accessible by boat. Those that make the trip here will often have the whole beach to themselves.