In the 16th century the city was the strongest Spanish fortress in the New World, excepting Cartagena, and gold and silver were brought hither by ship from Peru and were carried across the Isthmus to Chagres, but as Spain's fleets even in the Pacific were more and more often attacked in the 17th century, Panama became less important, though it was still the chief Spanish port on the Pacific. In 1671 the city was destroyed by Henry Morgan, the buccaneer; it was rebuilt in 1673 by Alfonzo Mercado de Villacorta about five miles west of the old site and nearer the roadstead.
The most celebrated iron deposit is that, of the Cerro del Mercado, in the outskirts of the city of Durango - a mountain 640 ft.
The old town centres in the Plaza del Mercado, from which narrow and tortuous lanes radiate in various directions; the new one dates, from about the middle of the 18th century, and its streets are wide and straight.
In August 1896 members of this association began an attack; and late in December the movement was reinforced as a result of the execution in Manila of Dr Jose Rizal y Mercado (1861-1896), a Filipino patriot.
In the old city also are the Plaza Vieja, dating from the middle of the 16th century (with the modern Mercado de Cristina, of 1837 - destroyed 1908), the old stronghold La Fuerza, erected by Hernando de Soto in 1538, once the treasury of the flotas and galleons, and residence of the governors, with its old watch-tower (La Vigia); and the Plaza de Armas, with the palace, the Senate building, a statue of Fernando VII.