Fort San Lorenzo

Fort San Lorenzo is one of the oldest Spanish forts in America. The fortification was built in 1597 to protect the mouth of Chagres River, which was the entry point for boats that navigated upstream to reach the post Venta de Cruces, from where they walked the rest of the way to Panama City on what became known as the Camino de Cruces. It is a magnificent example of the military architecture of that era, and in 1980 UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. 

Its history dates back to 1671, when the pirate Henry Morgan sent Joseph Bradly and 400 other men to capture the fort. Despite the Spaniards' great resistance, the fort succombed to a flaming arrow that opened a gap large enough for the pirates to enter. Only 30 of the 330 defenders survived, though none of these was official. A week later Morgan would arrive with 1,200 pirates to attack Panama City.

Today San Lorenzo is along the way to Gatún Locks on the Atlantic coast, making a stop to Fort San Lorenzo convenient on either leg of your trip to see the locks.


The fort is located on the Atlantic side of the country at the mouth of the Chagres River, after passing the Gatún Locks and the former Fort Sherman.

How to arrive

  • Car: It is recommended to go in car since no public transportation is available in the area of Fort San Lorenzo. From Panama City, first cross over to the city of Colón on the Atlantic side. After going past the Gatún Locks, drive into the site of Fort Sherman on internal roads that will take you to the fort, situated on a promontory over where the Chagres River empties into the Caribbean Sea. The road from the Gatún Locks to the ANAM guardpost is about 18 kilometers long, and it's only another 4 kilometers before you arrive at Fort San Lorenzo.

What to bring

  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Light-weight clothing


  • Tours of historical sites