Portobelo, Land of Congos

Portobelo, on the northern coast of Panamá, is a cultural treasure that shines with the vibrant congo heritage. This charming town is surrounded by lush vegetation and crystal clear waters, it breathes the rhythm and the authenticity of a community rooted in its traditions. Here, the celebration of life and history is woven into every dance, every dish, and every smile. When you visit Portobelo, the closest Caribbean destination to the capital, don’t miss the opportunity to get to know the incredible congo culture, its rhythms, its flavors, and its enthralling history.

Learn About Its History

Learn About Its History

In the XVI century, thousands of African slaves arrived in Portobelo at the hands of the conquerors.

Live Their Culture

Live Their Culture

There is one unique experience you can’t miss: a show of Diablos and Congos in a place called Maroon settlement or palenque that evokes the shelters of Maroons.


It’s a mixture of music and dance that tells, with humor, the story of the struggle for freedom.

The diablos (devils), dressed in red and black and wearing terrifying masks, personify evil, which for the black people was the slaver. On the other hand, the congos represent enslaved people and they have many characters such as Reina Congo or Conga Queen and Juan de Dios, her husband; the Mininas, two dancers that play members of the Royal Court; the Cazador (Hunter), who symbolizes the figure of the executioner and, among many other characters, the Pajarito (Little Bird) who is looking for the right place to establish the Maroon settlements and brings news of freedom in code.

Their Beliefs

Their Beliefs

When they arrived on the continent, the Afro-Colonials were converted to the Catholic faith, a faith they still practice with great fervor. In Portobelo, the saint they are devoted to is the Nazarene or Black Christ, who is portrayed in a dark wooden figure.

Their Flavors

Their Flavors

You can’t leave Portobelo without trying its typical cuisine: octopus stewed in coconut milk, snail or spider crab accompanied by rice with pigeon peas, lobster seasoned with coconut or fried fish with crunchy patacones (slices of fried banana).


The aromas from the kitchen will make your mouth water.

Visit Portobelo to live the experience of congo culture, to understand the spirit and the talent of its people, and to catch the bug of their rhythms and dances full of passion and feeling. 

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