Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Portobelo

Fortress of San Jeronimo (17th and 18th centuries)



The bay of Portobelo calls this way herself thanks to its discoverer, Christopher Columbus who arrived in its fourth trip, in November of 1502.

The town was founded in 1597 and was given the name of San Felipe de Portobelo in honor of King Phillip II of Spain.

In Portobelo all the gold coming from the Spanish colonies was deposited in South America, so in those years they were built several fortresses with the intention of protecting to the cities of the constant attack of pirates.

Portobelo suffered its first attack in 1596, even before it was officially founded, at the hands of Sir Frances Drake who died of fever before he could capture it and was secretly buried at sea off the entrance to the harbor. In 1668, Sir Henry Morgan attacked the town from the land and launched a surprise attack on Fort Santiago el Principe. He then attacked the remaining Spanish garrison, using monks and nuns to place scaling ladders against its walls. The city was at the mercy of Morgan's men who launched upon an orgy of looting, debauchery and torture. Portobelo lived through this reign of terror however. Other buccaneers and pirates who attacked Portobelo were Englishmen William Parker in 1601 and Edward Vernon in 1739.

The forts of Santiago and San Geronimo are each but a 5-minute walk from the pier. Even closer is the "Customs House", built in 1630, the remains of the church of La Merced, and the church of San Felipe, the last building to be built by the Spaniards. It was inaugurated in 1814. Its most carefully guarded and priceless relic is a beautifully carved statue of Jesus of Nazareth which, because of the dark wood from which it is made, is known as the "Black Christ". Every year on the 21st of October, Porotbelo relives a day of its glorious past in a celebration in honor of the Black Christ. The city is filled with people in a candlelight procession. The statue of the Black Christ is brought out of the church on a platform borne by 80 men and is carried through the streets of the city. It is followed by hundreds of pilgrims carrying candles who march behind it until it is once again restored to its resting place.









Church of San Felipe.




Statue of Jesus of Nazareth "Black Christ".





Eddy in the bus :-)





Local bus beautiful!!








Customs House or Royal Accounting Office (17th and 18th centuries).




Inside the fortress San Jeronimo.