The town of Portobelo

From Fuerte Santiago, we made our way east into the main part of the town, walking along the busy roadway and sidewalks. As soon as we got into the town, we could not help but notice and visit the historic Customs House. It was originally built in 1630, and was where all the gold and riches were accounted for and stored, until they could be loaded on the ships bound for Spain.

Originally called "The Kings House", the building was destroyed and rebuilt twice, once in 1744 by cannon fire in one of the many attacks on Portobelo, and once again in 1882 during an earthquake. Today it is a historic museum, and we spent about an hour walking around it looking at the many muskets, coins, and other artifacts housed there.

Also in the town is the large whitewashed San Felipe Church, visible from anywhere in the bay or town, that is still in use today. We stopped by it on our visit, but it was filled with throngs of worshippers, overflowing to the plaza outside, so we were unable to see inside where the famous Black Christ statue is housed.

town of Portobelo