1.         Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) (C 135)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (i)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1980-1993)
Total amount approved: USD 76,800
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

Monitoring mission in 2001

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Deterioration and destruction of the fabric of the sites by environmental factors, lack of maintenance,as well as polluted water;

b) Erosion;

c) Absence of management policies;

d) Uncontrolled urban development

e) Tourism pressures (in particular at Portobelo).

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

The State Party sent information that confirmed damage that had already been detected in 2001, without any mention of the state of progress of the project undertaken by the World Monuments Fund, which started in 2003.

The report states that neither San Lorenzo nor Portobelo have specific management plans.

As for the problems detected in San Lorenzo, the report mentioned:

a) The poor state of the road leading to the Castle, with difficult access, principally in the rainy season;

b) The lack of parking facilities;

c) No restrooms, electricity or drinking water is available;

d) Poor maintenance of the surrounding environment;

e) No signage or printed information available;

f) No tourist facilities or visitor center exists;

g) Damage to the dock at the base of the fortress is in evidence;

h) No safe access to the courtyard of the Castle is provided.


In the case of Portobelo, some recurrent problems are mentioned:

i) Squatter settlements in immediate proximity to the fortifications;

j) No implementation of the conservation regulations on culture and environment by local authorities;

k) No housing alternatives for families, who have built their houses on the fortifications;

l) No tourist facilities, no hotels, no docks;

m) The drainage system in the village does not work correctly and the water supply is insufficient;

n) No system of treatment of residual water is available, increasing pollution in the urban and archeological areas as well as in the sea;

o) No system for collecting rain water is available;

p) The monuments require conservation and restoration interventions;

q) It is mentioned that a territorial plan has been developed but not implemented.

The report mentions that the National Institute of Culture is working on the development of the Patronato de San Lorenzo to start preservation and rehabilitation works, through a technical office in Portobello to develop a more effective and direct relationship between the different levels of government to reinvigorate efforts on the site.

The World Heritage Series N°19, published in December 2006, is devoted to Fortifications in the Americas. A chapter addresses in detail the conservation priorities and work already undertaken in San Lorenzo and Portobelo. Unfortunately, the State Party report does not include this information. The publication is available at: https://whc.unesco.org/en/series/19

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.122

The World Heritage Committee,

1.       Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2.       Recalling Decisions 28 COM 15B.118 and 29 COM 7B.94, adopted at its 28th (Suzhou, 2004) and 29th (Durban, 2005) sessions respectively,

3.       Urges the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Committee a comprehensive progress report of the state of advancement of the interventions implemented, and foreseen, in the framework of the World Monuments Fund project by 1 February 2008;

4.       Reiterates its invitation to the State Party to submit a request for International Assistance, in particular to support the development of a management plan for the World Heritage property;

5.       Thanks the Spanish Government for undertaking the American Fortifications Programme and thanks the Government of Mexico for its offer to assist technically the Panamanian authorities in improving the state of conservation of the property through bilateral cooperation assisted by the World Heritage Centre.

6.       Requests the State Party to submit the territorial planning project mentioned in the report by 1 February 2008;

7.       Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a progress report by 1 February 2008 for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.