Montevideo: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Last updated: Décembre 21, 2020

The capital of a small country caught between two giants, Montevideo must assert its identity if it is not to be considered a borough of Buenos Aires. Founded in 1724, the city was fought over by the Spanish and Portuguese, with the English also occupying the city in 1807. A turbulent past that led to a more open-mindedness in Uruguay than in its neighbours.

01. Plaza Independencia

The square occupies the site of the old Spanish citadel that was dismantled in 1829, only the gate remains. In the centre stands the equestrian statue of José Artigas, architect of the country’s creation, his mausoleum is below. The sun-crushed central pavement is bordered by well-kept lawns. The square is surrounded by buildings with mismatched architecture.

02. Palacio Salvo

It’s like nothing ever seen before, a 95-metre tower over a 1920s bourgeois building. The same Italian architect built the equivalent in Buenos Aires, the two buildings were supposed to be able to communicate through lighthouses at their tops. Now an icon of the city, almost a hundred years later, the Salvo Palace still stands out.

03. Palacio Estévez

The dormant old presidential palace has become a museum, now replaced in its functions by the adjacent building, resembling a banal office building, without the ceremonial surrounding of the heads of state. A private residence when it was built in 1873, there was the same colonnade all around the square, complementing the commercial activity.

04 Palacio Legislativo

The legislative palace was inaugurated in 1925 for the centenary of Independence, until then the Parliament used to meet at the Montevideo City Hall. This imposing building seems to mark the importance of democracy, but like other nearby countries it suffered some shortcomings during the 20th century.

05. Iglesia Matriz

Unlike other Catholic countries, the cathedral does not stand in a central position, it is located in Constitution Square, once the centre of the city with the town hall, now a little out of the way. Completed in 1804, its sober classical style was intended as a correction of the former Baroque exuberance.

06. Mercado del Puerto

The old market is now just a giant restaurant. During the week civil servants and employees from the central districts come to lunch in large numbers. The crowds increase even more when cruise ships call, passengers are taken there for an asado. The smoke from the grills can be seen coming off the roof, filling the surroundings with tempting smells.

07. Torre Antel

The tower built by the telephone operator can be seen from all downtown, at 158 meters, it is the highest building in the country. Located in a district of warehouses and factories, it is surrounded by several other recent constructions. The intention is to use new technologies to revitalize an area that has fallen into disuse.

08. Palacio Taranco

Looking at the facades of the Ortiz de Taranco family’s palace, built at the beginning of the 20th century, there is more than just reminiscences of the French style, its architect had just built the Petit Palais in Paris. Now a Museum of Decorative Arts, the collection includes some of the original French furniture as well as European pieces of art.

09. Teatro Solis

Several Latin American cities have beautiful theatres, built at a time when cinemas and televisions did not exist yet. The local elites, once they had made their money, wanted to put a little culture into their lives and naturally took Europe as a model. The Solis Theatre was completed in 1856 to the design of an Italian architect.

10. La Rambla

This is where people meet in the evening or on weekends, with a ball or maté in hand. Whether long-term or occasional residents, it doesn’t take long before people get into the habit of coming to watch the sun fall into the sea from this informal terrace. A wide sidewalk encourages walking despite the nearby traffic.

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