Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, is intoxicating, fun and sticks to its traditions. The city has been overlooked in the past by travellers who passed through here and headed straight to Argentina, Brazil or Peru; however there is plenty to do and see over here and the city is becoming increasingly popular; the streets are lined with jacarandas – beautiful purple-blue flowering plants –and have cobbled lanes that wind through the old city and lead down to the shores of the River Plate. We’ve put together a list of things you can’t miss when you visit the capital.
Travellers tend to flock to beaches all over Uruguay to enjoy the beautiful summer weather, but what most people don’t know is that there are some fantastic beaches within its capital. Head down to Ramirez Beach, which is right next to Montevideo’s most popular park, Parque Rodo; it makes for a great day out as you can enjoy the park and then head down to the beach. There’s also a vintage amusement park and a museum inside Parque Rodó, which you can explore before spending the rest of the day on the beach.
Fortaleza Del Cerro
Originally built to protect a lighthouse from British Invasion in 1839, Fortaleza del Cerro looks proudly over the city as it sits nearly 440m above sea level. Today, the historic building is home to a military museum, which holds a large collection of firearms and provides good insight into the city’s history. You can tour the original lighthouse, which provides some incredible views of the city and everything that surrounds it. It’s advised to take a taxi to and from Fortaleza del Cerro as the surrounding area has a higher crime rate compared to the rest of the city, make sure you stay vigilant.
Museum of Fine Arts – Juan Manuel Blanes Museum
This museum is located in a villa in the neighbourhood of Prado. It was designated as a National Heritage Site in 1975 but was originally designed in 1870 by Juan Alberto Capurro, an engineer who trained at the Turin Polytechnic. In 1929, the building was renovated and by the following year it was opened as a museum which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the first Constitution of Uruguay and was named after the patriotic Uruguayan artist, Juan Manuel Blanes. Today, the museum displays an array of Uruguayan art, ranging from the nation’s founding to the present day.
Spanish for Independence Square, Plaza Independencia is Montevideo’s centre piece and the city’s most important plaza. It was originally designed in the 1830s by Carlo Zucchi and was inspired by the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. It wasn’t until three decades later that it was redesigned and built by Bernardo Poncini. Many important buildings, such as the Solís Theatre and both the Estévez Palace and Executive Tower, where the President of Uruguay works, are located in this square. It’s a great place to have a walk around in the afternoon and people watch.
Originally the Candombe, which is a music and dance performance, was brought to South America by African slaves and is still practiced every week today. It’s part of the world’s cultural heritage as declared by UNESCO and every Sunday at precisely 7pm you can hear the beat of the drums as the city is lined with people partaking in this performance; it’s incredible to watch!