Nov 07

Portobelo

by in Panama

Black Christ, Portobelo Panama

Today, Portobelo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded and built in the late 1500’s and was the port city for the town of Colón Panama. It was used as a silver exporting port for the various fleets of Spanish treasure ships. Being at the center for a wealth of silver, Portobelo was heavily fortified with many forts. But despite it’s fortification, it was a victim of the attacks by Captain Henry Morgan back in the mid 1600’s. The town was captured and plundered and stripped of all of its wealth.

Today, Portobelo is a sleepy city with a population of less than 3,000 people. You can still see many of the ruins of Fuerte San Jerónimo, Castillo Santiago de la Gloria, and San Felipe de Sotomayor.

Portobelo is also the home of the Black Christ (El Cristo Negro). Iglesia San Felipe de Portobelo, the parish that houses the statue, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The original parish was destroyed during Captain Henry Morgan’s pirate attack on Portobelo, and was later replaced by a small wooden church. Today, the present church, without the bell tower, was completed in 1814. The bell tower was later built in 1945.

Each year on October 21st, thousands of pilgrims are drawn to one the largest religious processions in Panama. They come to pay homage to the statue of Jesus Nazarene, or better know as the Black Christ.

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