Real Aduana de Portobelo


Under renovation at the time of research, the handsome, two-story Royal Customs House of Portobelo was originally built in 1638 to serve as the contaduría (counting house) for the king’s gold. Now the two main rooms house permanent exhibitions, including replicas of Spanish-colonial rifles, sketches of Portobelo’s forts, 20th-century black-and-white photos of the town and a few dozen rusty cannonballs.

Treasure brought across the isthmus was recorded and stored here until it could be placed on galleons and shipped to Spain. According to early records, as much as US$200,000 worth of valuables was stored and no fewer than 233 soldiers were garrisoned in this building alone.

Don't miss the bronze cannon at the entrance – it was recovered from a sunken galleon and bears a Spanish coat of arms and the date of manufacture (1617).

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