1750 Map of Panamá


.This is the original Camino Real (Gold Road). It originally went from Panamá Viejo to Nombre de Diós. This was built between 1530 and 1550. In 1572 and in 1573 and once more in 1593, Francis Drake, sacked Nombre de Diós and the Spaniards moved the terminus from Nombre de Diós, to Porto Bello and fortifications built there in 1597. After 1597, the Camino Real, stretched between Porto Bello, and Panamá.


In 1671, Henry Morgan captured the city of Panamá and the town burned to the ground. In 1674, the new, walled, city of Panamá was founded about 5 miles away from Panamá Viejo, and the terminus on the South Sea was moved to the new city. From Porto Bello on the North Sea, the Camino Real followed the old trail, and at the town of San Juan, it was rerouted further west and then lead to the new city of  Panamá.

Starting from Porto Bello, this road followed the Cascajal River through swamps and valleys until it reached the Boqueron River. There was a small village there, Boqueron, which was the first stop of the journey. This was about 8 leagues from Porto Bello. Once they crossed the Boqueron, they followed it south, crossing the San Juan River, and the Capira River. When they reached the junction of the San Juan and Pequeni River where there was another small village, Pequeni. Following the San Juan, they would arrive at the village of San Juan. This leg of the trip was down hill. From San Juan, they crossed the Chagres River at the Venta del Chagres. The trail continued past the Venta del Camillita to the village of Maria Enrique and on to Panamá.


This highway connected the town of Nombre de Diós to sea port of Porto Bello.


Las Cruces Trail. This road went from Panamá to the town of Cruces, on the Chagres River. This became the preferred route for the shipment of gold and silver from Peru, to Spain. The trail was much easier then the Camino Real, and was quicker. From Cruces, the treasures were sent by boat to San Lorenzo, and on to Porto Bello, also by boat.


This is called the Gorgona Trail. It followed the Las Cruces Trail and then forked off to the west, and met the Chagres River in the town of Gorgona. Between Cruces and Gorgona, there were some rapids, that were difficult for boats to traverse. It became popular, when coming from Chagres, to get to Gorgona, and then, instead of continuing on to Cruces, just get off the river and head on to Panama. This route would save about one day in travel.


The is the road that connected Panamá Viejo, destroyed in 1671 by Henry Morgan, to the new city of Panamá, built in 1674. Unlike Panamá Viejo, the new was next to a more defensible location. The new city, had a wall built around it, to make more defendable.


Bruce C. Ruiz
August 28, 2002