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

November 2001: Reactive monitoring mission UNESCO World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

b) Erosion;

c) Absence of management policies included in management plans;

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 2008

Official information was received by the World Heritage Centre on April 29 2008. The report presents a summary of the history of the site, but no consideration of the state of conservation of the site has been included. No information concerning the direct or indirect impact of the new infrastructures of the Panamá Channel was submitted..

Previous state of conservation reports have indicated the pressing need to develop management plans, which include precise assessments of all issues currently affecting the properties inscribed, as well as a prescribed course of action to address them in the short, medium and long-term. These include, amongst others:


San Lorenzo :

a) Poor state of the road leading to the Castle, with difficult access, particularly during the rainy season;

b) Lack of parking facilities;

c) Lack of restrooms, electricity or drinking water;

d) Poor maintenance of the surrounding environment;

e) Lack of signage, brochures or information;

f) Lack of tourist facilities or visitor centre;

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

h) Lack of safe access to the courtyard of the Castle;


Portobelo :

a) Illegal settlements in immediate vicinity of the fortifications;

b) Lack of implementation of the conservation regulations on culture and environment by local authorities;

c) Lack of housing alternatives for families, who have built their houses on the fortifications;

d) Lack of tourist facilities, hotels or docks;

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

f) Lack of treatment of residual water, increasing pollution in the urban and archeological areas as well as in the sea;

g) Lack of system for collecting rain water;

h) Lack of conservation and restoration interventions at the monuments;

i) Lack of implementation of the territorial plan;


The 2007 report mentioned that the National Institute of Culture is working on the development of preservation and recovery works at the Patronato de San Lorenzo, through a technical office in Portobelo to increase the direct relationship between the different levels of government. The report sent by the State Party still describes this possibility. Unfortunately it is not clear if the patronato has already been created or if it is in the process of being consolidated. The rules for its operation were also included, but it is not clear if they were already approved or they are still under revision. A five-year activity list for the patronato was attached, but no specification of when the activities are going to start or how the interventions will be undertaken.

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


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.125

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.122, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Regrets that the report sent by the State Party did not include actualized information, despite the worrying state of conservation of the property,

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

5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a comprehensive progress report, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.