COSTA ARRIBA DE COLON-POINTS OF INTEREST
Portobelo is less than a two-hour drive from Panama City. Columbus landed here in l502 and gave its name "beautiful port." It was officially founded in 1597 as San Felipe de Portobelo in honor of the Spanish King. During the seventeenth century the famous annual trade fairs were held in Portobelo Until the eighteenth century it was an important silver-exporting port on the Spanish Main. In 1668 Captain Henry Morgan led a fleet of privateers against Portobelo and captured and plundered the town. In 1739 the port was again attacked and captured by a British fleet commanded by Admiral Edward Vernon.
Today, Portobelo is a town with a population of approximately 5000. Its deep natural harbor is a favorite stop for the international yachting community. The preserved Spanish fortifications and other historical building are worth visiting. In 1980 the fortification ruins, along with nearby Fort San Lorenzo, were declared a World Heritage Site.
The forts of Santiago and San Geronimo are close to the pier. In the same area are the "Customs House", built in 1630, the remains of the church of La Merced, and the church of San Felipe, the last building built by the Spaniards, inaugurated in 1814. Its most carefully guarded relic is a carved statue of Jesus of Nazareth, the Nazreno, which, because of the dark wood from which it is made, is known as the "Black Christ".. Every year on the 21st of October, Portobelo holds a celebration in honor of the Nazareno.The city is filled with people in a candlelight procession. The statue of the Nazareno is brought out of the church on a platform and is carried through the streets. It is followed by hundreds of pilgrims carrying candles who march behind it until it is once again restored to its resting place.
This island, about 45 minutes east of Portobelo by car, is the largest of a series of islands in the area. Surrounded by coral reefs, Isla Grande is ideal for diving, snorkeling and surfing. It has a "funky" Caribbean environment and an excellent beach. You can reach Isla Grande by taking a water taxi from the town of La Guaira. There are several hotels and good restaurants. They fill up quickly on holiday weekends so reservations are advise during those times. Be sure to climb up to the lighthouse for a birds eye view of the Caribbean.
Nombre de Dios
n 1502 on his final journey to the Americas, Columbus traveled with four ships. The crew was tired by the time they reached Nombre de Dios. Columbus: was reported to say to his crew: “in the name of God we will go no further”. Hence the name of the town:(Name of God). In 1510 Diego de Nicuesa founded a permanent settlement at Nombre de Dios. In 1519 a road was built to connect Panama City and Nombre de Dios. The road was called the Camino Real. The Spaniards used this road to carry Peruvian silver and gold across the Isthmus. In Nombre de Dios the treasure was loaded on ships for the voyage to Spain. In 1572 the Englishman Francis Drake entered the harbor in Nombre de Dios and attacked the town.: After Drake’s raids the Spanish moved the Caribbean end of the Camino Real from Nombre de Dios to Portobelo --a more secure port against the pirates. Nombre de Dios disappeared under the shadow of Portobelo.I
Today Nombre de Dios is a small fishing village with a laid back lifestyle. It is known for its Ash Wednesday diablo activities-an annual ritual which mixes traditions of its Spanish and African ancestors.
To the east of Nombre De Dios on the beach is Caribbean Jimmy's Dive Resort. Great diving, jungle tours, and other activities can be found there. The resort also offers boat excursions to the San Blas Islands. Click on http://www.caribbeanjimmysdiveresort.com for more information.
Further to the east, you can find a beautiful sandy beach in Palenque. Further still, the town of Miramar has a fuel dock where you can tie up your boat for limited repair facilities. The road ends at Cuango-where good surfing can be found. During dry season the Rio Cuango can be forded and the travel can continue east to Santa Isabel. This is a rough road for four wheel drive vehicles only. Check with the locals for conditions before undertaking this trip.
San Blas Islands
This beautiful archipelago is an autonomous region (Comarca) of Panama and inhabited by the Kuna Indians. It is located due east of the Panamanian mainland which ends at Punta San Blas. There are over 500 islands in the archipelago.. The kunas enjoy a unique culture and lifestyle and have acquired a worldwide reputation for their handicrafts, particularly their beautiful "molas". San Blas is truly a unique experience and should not be missed if you visit Panama. The San Blas islands can be visited by boat from Costa Arriba. Trips can be arranged at Caribbean Jimmy's Dive Resort. There are also daily fights from Panama City.
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