Located near the mouth of the Chagres River, the remains of the mighty Fort San Lorenzo stand surrounded by the sparkling Caribbean Sea and over 30,000 acres of protected rainforest in the jungles of the Panama Canal watershed. Built to protect the entrance and exit of the main route to the Americas, the construction of the fort was ordered by Spanish King Felipe II in 1598, with limited effectiveness. In fact, between the years of 1596-1740, the fort was under almost constant attack by now-famous pirates such as Sir Francis Drake, Sir Henry Morgan and the English Admiral Edward Vernon.
Recognized today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the massive fortress was made by the Italian engineer Juan Bautista Antonelli, and is considered an extraordinary example of 17th and 18th century military architecture. When you visit, take some time to wander around the majestic ruins, and imagine what life might have been like over 400 years ago when pirates and enemy ships had their eyes on San Lorenzo. You’ll get to walk through the same dark, musty hallways of the colonial era, and view the heavy cannons nestled behind the walls. Take in the stunning views of the Chagres River, and on out to the Caribbean Sea. The historical area is not only great for exploration and introspection, but it’s also an excellent place for birdwatching.
The trip from Panama City to San Lorenzo will take about an hour and twenty minutes by car.