Events in Panama

Please select a Date first.

Search for a company in Panama

Debug

Welcome

Login to your account below, if you do not have an account, select Register.

Or Login with your preferred Social Media Account

Sign in with Facebook Sign in with Twitter Sign in with Google

Register your account below, if you already have an account, select Login.

Castillo de San Lorenzo

Historical and Cultural Sites
Things to do in Panama

It was through this river that the pirate Henry Morgan arrived in the city of Panama 'La Vieja' to loot it. To reach it, it is necessary to pass over the Gatun locks and enter Fuerte Sherman, a military exbase, surrounded by a thick jungle rich in species diversity.
 
It is an ideal place for bird watching. The Fuerte is located on the right bank of the Chagres River and the entrance by land, from the town of Chagres, is done by means of a drawbridge that was over a pit about six meters deep.
 
The fort of San Lorenzo is one of the oldest Spanish fortresses in America. It is located next to what was the old seat of the town of Chagres, at the mouth of the river of the same name. As we have seen, the attacks of Francisco Drake on the coasts of the Kingdom of Tierra Firme in 1572, especially the attacks against Nombre de Dios and the Camino Real, which was the path traveled by the treasures that came from Peru, forced the constriction of a defense system in the Atlantic ports.
 
This is how it was decided to build the Fort of San Lorenzo, to protect the entrance of the waterway that penetrated near the ancient city of Panama. The work was begun in 1598 by order of King Felipe II and ended in 1601. The plans of the massive fortress were made by the Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli.
 
The Castle of San Lorenzo was built on top of a high reef, in a position that completely dominates the entrance of the Chagres River. 'The entrance to this had to be rowing to the House of Crosses, and from there could only be advanced with a lever handled by experts and led by very skilled blacks called proles, which was difficult to dispose the invader, and anyway, they did not ask to escape to the arcabuceria disposed on the coast, once dead, the current irremediably pushed the ship out to sea '.
 
The original structure of the Castle of San Lorenzo was that of an advanced fortress, surrounded by steep slopes filled with earth that served as walls. Its defensive value lay in the site that dominates a wide stretch of the sea, which facilitated the defense of the mouth of the river. For that reason he was considered as sentinel of the great strategic triangle of the Isthmus.
 
From 1616 to 1620, the Fort counted on 'six thick pieces of bronze, with its Castilian to Captain, and soldiers of presidio for the defense of the entrance'. In 1620, the Spanish became aware of the state of the San Lorenzo fortress. Cristóbal de Roda prepared on that date a 'perspective of the castle that is made in the mouth of the Chagres River that is falling and open as it will be seen'.
 
The original structure of the Castle of San Lorenzo was that of an advanced fortress, surrounded by steep slopes filled with earth that served as walls. Its defensive value lay in the site that dominates a wide stretch of the sea, which facilitated the defense of the mouth of the river. For that reason he was considered as sentinel of the great strategic triangle of the Isthmus.
 
From 1616 to 1620, the Fort counted on 'six thick pieces of bronze, with its Castilian to Captain, and soldiers of presidio for the defense of the entrance'. In 1620, the Spanish became aware of the state of the San Lorenzo fortress. Cristóbal de Roda prepared on that date a 'perspective of the castle that is made in the mouth of the Chagres River that is falling and open as it will be seen'.
 
In 1670 the Castle was attacked and taken by Joseph Bradley, following the instructions of Enrique Morgan, who had foreseen the destruction of the Fort as a first step to assault the Old City of Panama following the Chagres River route. The fact that the pirate Bradley did not attack by sea, but ended with his 400 men in a small port near the Castle and rushed by land, reveals that the calculations of the engineer Antonelli were right to consider the high reef as an almost impregnable place .
 
The yard has a cistern or well of considerable diameter, which served for the water supply. In the most advanced part towards the sea, there is a spiral staircase, made of stone, which leads to a lower level below the earth. This staircase served as a possible communication to the ravine, in the form of an underground subway from where the enemy was observed or functions related to defense were carried out.
 
This defensive elementeo, as well as the strategic subterranean galleries, in the manner of mysterious labyrinths, crossed the castle in several directions. In the ruins of the building located in the lower plateau, the use of stone in the bases and up to a certain height of the walls can be observed; upwards brick was used.
 
There are also semicircular arches as well as vain lintel made of bricks. The sentry boxes are also of this material. For Professor Angel Rubio, the ruins of San Lorenzo de Chagres, in its bastions, way of round, casemate, powder keg, room of arms, etc. They reflect a Carolino style (Carlos III of Spain, XVIII century). Rubio argued that 'as far as the castles of Portobelo and Chagres, genuine types of miliktar architecture are concerned, it is very visible that on its first seventeenth-century structures the restorative work of the type of military architecture of the 18th century in its Carolino moment passed' San Lorenzo del Chagres not only served as a fortress, but after its reconstruction also fulfilled functions of state prison. In his subterranean galleries that still evoke colonial dungeons, Pedro de Guzman and Dávalos, Marques de Mina and Governor of the Kingdom of Tierra Firme, who together with his espipossa lived in the dark dungeons of the fortress, were imprisoned.
 
In the pits of this prison was also confined the Peruvian Francisco Antonio de Zela, hero of the American emancipation.
 
At the beginning of this century, part of the Fort's equipment and accessories was still visible. In a visit made in 1908, the historian Juan Bautista Sosa found remains of gun carriages, culverins and mortars, household utensils, chains and shackles. Even today you can see the heavy guns that defended it. By law 61 of December 31, 1908 was allocated the sum of one thousand balboas (B / 1,000.00) for the conservation of the Castle of San Lorenzo along with the conservation of Portobelo and Bacílica de Natá. By Law 68 of 1941 it was declared a National Monument. In 1995, it was renewed by the army of the United States of North America.
 
Excavations carried out in 1966, uncovered a new emplacement of canyons located on the land side 'and whose object was to dominate the esplanade that faces the roundabout of the Fort and avoid surprises in the back as it happened in 1671'. In San Lorenzo, in addition to visiting the historic Monument, the Fort, you can also perform other activities such as backpacking, birdwatching, diving and kayaking, among other activities

Directions

Castillo de San Lorenzo, Colon

View Larger Map

Budget

  • Affordable

Best For Whom

  • Families With Children
  • Backpackers
  • Students

Best For What

  • The Local Experience

Gallery

My Lists

Create New Guide

OR

Mini Guides
Arrow

Login to create your guides for Panama.

Add to My Guide

Create New Guide

Cancel

Cancel

You Might Also Like

Create & Share your Guide to Panama with friends and family!

Add your recommended places to visit by browsing the website and pressing the icon.

Create your own guide of favourite 'must see' places

Earn your Local Expert badge by Sharing your guides with others

Get your guide seen by submitting it to the Mini Guides section

Lists

Mini Guides

Part of the My Guide Network

My Guide Panama is part of the global My Guide Network of Online & Mobile travel guides.

We are now in 120+ Destinations and Growing. If you are interested in becoming a local travel partner and would like to find out more then click for more info about our Website Business Opportunity.

Nearby Destinations