At one point, more than one-third of the world’s gold and silver passed through Portobelo’s Customs House before being patriated to Spain. The town was also a hub from trading in sugar, tobacco, wine, cloth, cheese, and slaves. The riches located in Portobelo couldn’t be kept a secret, and envious pirates and other nations began to set their sights on the town. To protect the town’s wealth, Spain built an impressive collection of armaments and forts to defend against the British fleets and pirates that attacked. The ruins of these forts are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provide a glimpse into the town’s famed past.
For those less inclined towards historical ruins and museums, Portobelo is surrounded by a national park that provides a wealth of natural beauty waiting to be explored.