San Lorenzo Castle

San Lorenzo Castle

I really wanted to go to San Lorenzo Castle and this trip put together me to hike Chame Hill and if you saw that post, I ended up almost dead, to the next day to drive to Colón, but I did it with pleasure.

San Lorenzo Castle is in the Forest Protective and Protected Landscape San Lorenzo, therefore, there are certain rules and requirements for the visit, I comment below.

My original idea was to leave at 6:00 am, of course if that was my only trip of the weekend, the thing is that I did not manage to leave until 8:15 am, I went to look for a friend and from there directly to Colón.

I went through Panama Colón Highway (enter through Chilibre), the highway ends at the 4 Altos Shopping Center, from there it is only follow the signs of the Expanded Canal.

By the timem, I went you could use the Ferry and also go through the Locks, to cross to the other side.

So, to go I took the Ferry and back I went through the Locks, since at the time the Atlantico Bridge was still in building.

Swimming pools of the Expanded Canal
Swimming pools of the Expanded Canal, one of the things that could be seen along the way, before the construction of the Atlantic Bridge.

Then on the way, you pass by an Aeronaval sentry box, you only tell them that you go to San Lorenzo Castle and continue, left, left and follow to the end (literally to the end).

Further down the road there is Mi Ambiente sentry box, continue about 3 km, until the end and you will have arrived.


At 11:30 a.m., I was parking at San Lorenzo Castle the Real of Chagres.

The Fort and the Castle are the same, the real name is Castle, but in reality, it is not one where royalty lived, rather it was an area of ​​military defense, a Fort.

San Lorenzo Castle parking lot
Arriving at the Castillo San Lorenzo. The branch of the tree that passes by the bus, reaches the ground, literally.

San Lorenzo Castle is large, it is quite preserved, compared to other Forts in Panama, in addition there are several information sheets that explain each point.

There are several ramps, so wheelchair users can go.

It has spectacular views of the mouth of the Chagres river and the Atlantic Ocean, I did not want to go, I only needed a chair or a petate, by the way, there are no chairs there.

You can walk entirely, enter its vaults, go through all its corridors, walk through high points and low points and imagine what it would be like at that time.

Despite the attacks received, this was a privileged point for being close to a river, beaches and also high up with a great panoramic view.

San Lorenzo Castle Canyons.
Canyons from the Lunette.

Some history

San Lorenzo Castle has been used on several occasions, first it was built between 1595 and 1599, however, in 1596 Francis Drake arrived and attacked it, then in 1671 a captain from Henry Morgan took the fortress and sacked it.

It was rebuilt in 1601 and in 1740 Edward Vemon arrived and  bombardment it.

Then, between 1761 and 1768 the current one was built and it was no longer attacked again.

However, after the Independence of Spain it was used as a barracks and prison.

Later, in 1831 General Thomas Herrera took the Fort to prevent the separation of Panama of Gran Colombia.

And guess what, then, the United States used it as part of defending the Canal. Since 1908 it is protected by law and since 1980 it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Map of the elements of the Fort.
Map of the elements of the Fort.

Some elements

  • The house of the Castilian, gives much to the imagination (he who speaks Spanish lived there or someone from Castile), the reality is that it was the house of the manager of the Castle, castle= Castilian.
  • Dry moat: used as a barrier in attacks.
  • The Battery and the Lunette: they were the places where the cannons were.
  • Main door: it was a lift gate, just like many medieval movies.
  • The Vaults: they were excavated in natural rock, they were used as dormitories, cells and warehouses.
  • Cistern: underground tank, where rainwater was reserved.
San Lorenzo Castle vaults.
One of the vaults.

What’s in the surroundings?

  • Pavón Hill Trail, 3km.
  • 2 beaches (Tortuguilla Beach), the car must be left at the edge of the street and hike.

Finishing our tour and it started to rain, quite hard, we ran to the car and ate something, it was already 1:00 p.m.

For some strange reason, the other visitors left, also those who had just arrived, only we and the vendors (water and peddlers) remained.

The rain lasted what it took me to eat 2 small packages of cookies and from there the sun came out with everything.

View from the moat.
View from the moat.

Sherman Fort

We went to Fort Sherman, which is a few kilometers away and before reaching the Aeronaval sentry box.

It is an abandoned American building.

Actually, you cannot go to the Fort itself, just go to the Marina, it is beautiful but there is not much to do, just see the sailboats and yachts. There is a restaurant and a hotel.

Marina of Sherman.
Marina of Sherman. In the background, the buildings of the old Fort.

Tiempo de viaje es aproximadamente 1:30h usando la autopista Panamá-Colón y parte de Corredor Norte.

Panama canals
View of the Agua Clara Locks and Gatún Locks from the Ferry.

Advices

  • Bring water and snack,
  • Bring some umbrella or raincoat, no matter what time of year it is,
  • If you want you can bring a chair or have a picnic,
  • Collect everything you bring, do not leave anything,
  • Take the Panama – Colón Highway,
  • Go on Sunday, less traffic.

Hours

  • Monday to Sunday,
  • From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Prices

  • Free entrance
  • $2.30 Panamá- Colón highway, each way.

My investment (cost not shared)

  • $4.60 Highway toll
  • $4.75 Corridor toll
  • $12.00 Fuel
  • $3.00 Snack
  • $6.00 Lunch
  • Total: $ 33.35

On Sunday the corridor is not necessary, expenses can be shared among 5 people, down to $ 12.32. With this you could make a day at the beach and visit the forts.

Note

Although they are not charging yet, it is necessary to register at the entrance of Mi Ambiente.

Booking

You can only go with a Booking: write to parqueislabastimentos@miambiente.gob.pa

Information to give to make the booking

  • Do it with a minimum of 72 hours in advance,
  • You must put in the subject: Reserva área protegida,
  • Date of the visit,
  • Number of people visiting (in case of groups, only up to 8 people are allowed),
  • Name and telephone number of the person who is booking,
  • Names, surnames, ages, nationalities and identity card or passport number of the visitors.

Maximum capacity

  • 300 people per day (among the trail Tortuguilla, Pavón, El Aguacate, Chagres River, Dock of Chagres River and San Lorenzo Castle).

Regulation of the National Parks

  • Do not enter alcoholic drinks,
  • No pets,
  • Forbidden to feed the fauna,
  • No Smoking,
  • Do not carry or take out, species of fauna and flora or parts and sub-parts of these.

How to get to San Lorenzo Castle?

Almost everything is already written above, but in summary, take the Panama-Colón highway to the end.

Follow the signs of the Expanded Canal – Agua Clara Locks – on that road, on the right, it will be the Atlantico Bridge, you must cross it, then take the street on the right and continue.

After the Aeronaval sentry box, take a left, go straight to the sentry post of the Park, pay the entrance and continue until the street ends.

You can only go by car.

Updated: 2021.

Other places you may like

One of the beaches that can be seen from the Adave.
One of the beaches that can be seen from the Adave.



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