The original Panama City is still standing…sort of. It mostly consists of just a pile of stones, but using your imagination, you can envision the Spanish walking the stone clad streets while protecting the city that was full of wealth. Might as well check it out, right?
It was hot…yet we headed out anyways. As soon as we arrived at the site, we saw a lady under the shade selling drinks. We ended up sitting there for almost an hour, drinking large amounts of ice cold juice. Finally, we got up and headed in. I decided to be the tour guide, and from then on out, I made everyone call me Captain Eric. Think I’m going to keep that name.
Founded in 1519 by some guy whose name isn’t really that important, the city of Panama was the first European settlement on the Pacific. The city was full of wealth because of the bullion pipeline that ran from Peru’s gold and silver mines to Europe, via Panama. Lots of gold equals lots of soldiers. Due to the extravagant military presence, for over 150 years, they were able to keep pirates in the distance. That is, until Captain Morgan came along.
I like this guy. Captain Morgan was intelligent, sophisticated, and also, a great rum is currently named after him. So in 1671, Morgan thought he could take Panama City. I mean, he never really lost a major battle, so I don’t blame him for having a large head. Before they began their attack, they liquored up (on rum, of course) and then laid siege.
The city did not have a wall around it, but was surrounded by water on three sides, with a causeway on the land side. They Spaniards had a pretty good position, but they were also full of stupidity. Instead of holding down the city, they decided to confront the pirates in an open field. The only smart move they made is that they situated themselves on a hill…but of course, they didn’t stay there for long.
So, the battle begins. Pirates are great fighters, but they also need to take many breaks for a glass of rum. On one of their drinking breaks, the Spaniards thought that a retreat was in progress…hence mistake #2. They left the hill that they were on and positioned themselves in the gully. The shooters with Captain Morgan couldn’t have been happier. Not only were they drunk on their spiced rum, but now they had a perfect opportunity to put their shooting skills into practice….no more duck hunt on the television. The Spanish fell to pieces, thus, the original Panama City fell into the hands of pirates. Ahhh…if they would have just held on to their britches and stayed in the city…things would be drastically different.
At the time of the attack, Panama City held the Golden Alter, which, is exactly what is sounds like…a Golden Alter. When the Spanish received word that Captain Morgan and his men were approaching the city, they painted the entire alter black in order to conceal it’s identity. Once the city was sacked, Morgan questioned all the priests. Every one of them claimed that it was stolen earlier by other pirates, and surprisingly, Morgan believed them…you know, since priests don’t lie. Now, get this. I guess Morgan felt bad or something, but he then donated money in order to have the alter replaced in the future! I’d say that’s a perfect example of sophistication.
The actual viewing of the city was boring. Nothing to talk about there…yet I found the history fascinating, as told by Captain Eric, of course.