Architectural survey yields information on the fortresses of Portobelo and San Lorenzo

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Taking a survey of the land.

Taking a survey of the land.

The Italian architect Dr. Sandro Parrinello, a professor at the universities of Pavia and Florence, Italy, together with a group of his students, conducted an important architectural survey on location, in the fortresses of Portobelo and San Lorenzo, on the Caribbean coast of the Panamanian isthmus.

The study, which was conducted under the auspices of Patronato of Portobelo and San Lorenzo, systematically documented the structures of these historical monuments and classified their different components by location or topic, noting the dates of construction, architectural details, and the changes made over time.

A student takes measurements in one of the San Lorenzo Fort channels.

A student takes measurements in one of the San Lorenzo Fort channels.

Parrinello said the reason why he was interested in Panama was the existence of these military forts of the Renaissance period, which were built by Italian Battista Antonelli (1547-1616). The architect has studied his work in the Americas for years, because of the influence they had on the creation of a strong network commissioned by the Spanish royal house to protect their treasure-laden ships traveling from its American colonies to Spain.

Panama’s geographical position has always been a crossroads for commerce and for the Spanish conquerors it was an important communication route for the transport of the treasures from the newly settled lands of Peru and Bolivia from America to Spain. For that reason two forts were built at the mouth of the Chagres River, in what is now the province of Colón located on the Atlantic coast of the country.

Dr. Sandro Parrinello uncovers the past.

Dr. Sandro Parrinello uncovers the past.

In 2010, Parrinello and his students spent four and a half months in Portobelo and summarized their findings in 30 slides that display data, and micro-environmental measures. Now the architect and his group of students have performed the same work at the fort of San Lorenzo.

The San Lorenzo architectural survey has not been completed yet. The local study took over two weeks of work in the fortress, in January this year, using the innovative technology of dynamic photogrammetry. Data is being processed and it is expected that all reports will be ready between December 2013 and January 2014.

High walls were built to keep out invaders.

High walls were built to keep out invaders.

To the Patronato of Portobelo and San Lorenzo the study is of great importance, since these documents will provide valuable information that helps to fulfill the requirements for management plans for the maintenance and

The old fort in Portobelo borders a body of water, close to modern- day buildings.

The old fort in Portobelo borders a body of water, close to modern- day buildings.

preservation of historical sites.

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