COSTA ARRIBA DE COLON-HISTORY
Nombre de Dios
The first persons to explore Panama were the Spaniards Rodrigo de Bastidas and Vasco Nuñez de Balboa: In 1501 they sailed from Venezuela to explore the Caribbean coast of Panama . In 1502 Columbus arrived at the harbor which would be called Nombre de Dios. The journey had not gone well and the crew was tired by the time they reached the harbor. Reportedly Columbus said to his crew: in the name of God we will go no further. Hence the name of the town,: Nombre de Dios (Name of God). Columbus left the harbor almost as soon as he arrived and sailed back in the direction of Costa Rica He would never return to Nombre de Dios.
In 1510 Diego de Nicuesa founded a permanent settlement at Nombre de Dios. In 1519 Panama City was founded on the Pacific coast. A road known as the Camino Real was built from Nombre de Dios to Panama City: The Camino Real was 50 miles long and nine feet wide. This road was constructed to carry treasure, plundered from from Peru and shipped to Panama City, across the isthmus to Nombre de Dios. In Nombre de Dios the treasure was loaded onto ships for the voyage to Spain.
were black slaves that escaped from their Spanish masters and make
their way into the jungle. Many of the cimarrones escaped along
the Camino Real.. They were able to establish settlements in the
jungle far from the Spanish. From these settlements they ran raids along
the Camino Real. The cimarrones formed an unlikely alliance
with the French and English in Panama. The person who brought these groups
together was the Englishman Francis Drake.
Drake made his way through the jungles of Panama to the Pacific coast. He carried out two raids on the Camino Real. The first raid was on the Pacific side; the other more successful raid took place in the hills above Nombre de Dios. Drake was able to capture £50,000 worth of silver and gold.. Drake sailed back to England with the stolen treasure and on August 9th 1573 presented his treasure to Queen Elizabeth.
After Drakes raids on Panama the Spanish moved the Caribbean end of the Camino Real from Nombre de Dios to Portobelo which had a more secure port. Nombre de Dios languished and then disappeared under the shadow of Portobelo.
In 1502 Portobelo was discovered and named by Christopher Columbus when his vessels sought shelter in the "beautiful port" from a storm. In 1596, even before it was officially founded, Portobelo suffered its first attack at the hands of Sir Frances Drake. Drake died of fever before he could capture Portobelo. He was secretly buried at sea off the entrance to the harbor. The town was officially founded in 1597 and was given the name of San Felipe de Portobelo in honor of King Philip II of Spain. During the late l6th and early l7th century Portobelo was the principal Spanish trade port for all of South America. The exchange of merchandise took place annually at the Portobelo trade fair which lasted from 30 to 60 days. During this time, Portobelo was a beehive of activity.
.In 1668 Henry Morgan attacked the town from the land and launched a surprise attack on Fort Santiago. The city was at the mercy of Morgan's men who launched an orgy of looting, debauchery and torture. After Portobelo lived through this reign of terror, the town was attacked by other buccaneers and pirates such as Englishmen William Parker in 1601 and Edward Vernon in 1739. As a result of the repeated pirate attacks Portobelo's annual trade fairs were forced stop. Spain abandoned the Isthmian route for the longer but more secure one around Cape Horn. The golden age of Portobelo ceased.
Today only monuments stand in Portobelo as a testament to her proud history
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