If you have an appreciation or love for the Spanish culture, then learning the history behind the town and ruins of Portobelo Panama will make your trip worthwhile before you visit. Originally discovered by the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, in 1502 on his route to discovering America, he gave the town the name of Puerto Bella meaning beautiful port. However, it was not founded until 1597 by Francisco Velarde y Mercado.
Portobelo Panama continued on the path of being taken over by and attacked by pirates. This was due to annual fairs being held for several days or months in the town as a central connection for other cities to exchange merchandise, resulting in a large amount of gold being gathered. Even holding the fairs every year instead of often brought piracy and a famous one in particular named Captain Henry Morgan. After recovering from a torturous capture by the Captain and his crew, the town encountered countless other attacks which eventually led to the decline of the city and what is now considered a historical monument only with a few residents left.
The history has not detoured but seems to lure more visitors and tourists from all over who still find beauty in Portobelo Panama. Spanish forts, walls and old cannons can still be seen today symbolizing the forms of protection against some of the pirate attacks. Paths stretching to other cities for entry and exit ways to the annual trades can also be seen in Portobelo Panama.
One thing that keeps Portobelo Panama unified with the rest of the cities in Panama is the festival held every year to celebrate the miracles of a statue called Black Christ. It was called this supposedly due to the dark wood from which the statue is made. History says that the statue was found by seamen who had a rough sails during severe storms and only after discarding the statue were their ships stable on the waters. The statue then appeared back in the bay of Portobelo ending a health epidemic that started after the statue left. Others say the statue seemed to reappear countless times to the city every time it was removed as to make Portobelo its home.