The Isthmus of Panama is very rich in history, specially Spanish colonial history when Spain was ferociously exploring the islands and mainland of the New World. Panama City became the most important site in America during the colonization of the continent. From Panama City, huge amounts of gold and silver were shipped from the port of Portobello towards Madrid in Spain; country that was in the midst of the Mercantilism economic system of the XVth century. Everything then was measured in precious metals–silver or gold, or both.
Francisco Pizarro González (1471 or 1476-1541). Credit: Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Francisco Pizarro González was a Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incan Empire in Peru, South America. After discovering northern Peru in 1528, he found the natives rich with precious metals, exactly what the crown of Castile back home wanted with a high degree of greed and hubris.
Pizarro returned to Spain to appeal directly to King Charles I to return to Peru and extend the presence of Spain there, and of course, to extract the colossal riches of the country. His plea was successful, and he received not only a license for the proposed expedition, but considerable authority over any lands conquered during the venture. He was joined by his family and friends, and the expedition left Panama in 1530.
Pizarro’s third and final expedition left Panama for Peru on December 27, 1530. During the exploration of Cuzco, Pizarro was impressed and through his officers wrote back to King Charles I of Spain, saying: “This city is the greatest and the finest ever seen in this country or anywhere in the Indies… We can assure your Majesty that it is so beautiful and has such fine buildings that it would be remarkable even in Spain.” The rest is history; probably you already read about it during your History classes in High School.
What you probably don’t know is that the preparations for the expedition to Peru were made in the Island of Taboga. It was here where Pizarro designed, organized the expedition and eventually sailed to conquer Peru and extract its wealth for the Monarch of Spain, King Charles I.
Snapshot of a plaque displaying the name of a street in Taboga named after Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru in South America. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
On January 18, 1535, Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Lima in Peru’s central coast, a foundation that he considered as one of the most important things he had created in life. The egg he laid in Taboga had finally hatched in Lima Peru.
The village of San Pedro in Taboga was founded in 1524 by Padre Hernando de Luque, dean of the Panama cathedral. He built a comfortable house on the island and remained there most of the time. It was Padre Luque who provided funds and blessed Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro before they set off from Taboga on their conquest of the flourishing Inca Empire. Isla Taboga still has ruins from these by-gone days of conquistadors and the first settlements of explorers of the New World.
Snapshot of the site where Francisco Pizarro once lived and planned the conquest of Peru. Unfortunately the original edifice was torn down and replaced by a modern private residence. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
After their return from Peru and notoriously rich, the Pizarro family erected a plateresque-style palace on the corner of the Plaza Mayor in Trujillo, Spain. It was said to have been constructed on the orders of Pizarro’s daughter, Francisca Pizarro Yupanqui. It became an instant recognizable symbol of the plaza. Nothing similar was built in Taboga or Panama City. Only the name of a street named after Francisco Pizarro reminds us of the historic events which took place on this island a long time ago, that changed the course of events in the New World. Good Day.