Greetings from charming Colonia with its cobblestone streets, historical neighborhoods, vintage cars, and outdoor tables for refreshments!
I have never had to look very far to find an excuse to hit the road. So it came as a pleasant excuse while living in Argentina that we were required to leave the country every 90 days because of visa restrictions. There was no minimum requirement as to how long we had to be out of the country. One day, one week, one year, they all worked! In my mind this was simply wonderful. As a consequence, we took advantage of this requirement which gave us a valid “excuse” to leave Argentina and go explore elsewhere. We visited neighboring Chile twice, Uruguay once, and Venezuela once just in order to keep the Argentine immigration officers happy! On rare occasions, bureaucracy can be a beautiful thing!
Adios Buenos Aires! See you in a few days.
One of my favorite excursions from Buenos Aires was to the colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento in the neighboring country of Uruguay. A visit to “Colonia” was as easy as boarding either a large ferry which also carried cars or a smaller, high speed ferry. We choose the slower ferry for our departure and the high speed ferry for our return. With the "rapido" you can arrive in Colonia in just over one hour after leaving port in Buenos Aires and crossing the Río de la Plata.
Taking the fast and comfortable Buquebus ferry across the Rio Plata is a great and convenient way to visit Colonia or Montevideo in Uruguay when you need a little break from Buenos Aires.
Colonia del Sacramento in southwestern Uruguay is located on the Río de la Plata (River of Silver) facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. "Colonia" is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay and waiting for our visit!
The tranquil harbor of Colonia, Uruguay on a quiet summer day.
Sunset as seen from the historic center of Colonia can be magical!
Colonia's historical streets are painted in the colors of their sunsets,
Colonia del Sacramento (formerly known in Portuguêse as Nova Colónia do Sacramento) is a town in southwestern Uruguay on the Río de la Plata facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay and has a population of approximately 27,000. Founded by the Portuguêse in 1680 on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, Colonia del Sacramento is steeped in much history a lot of which was very turbulent. It was the only Portuguêse settlement along the Rio de la Plata and was founded by Manuel de Lobo. “Colonia” became the focus of serious territorial struggles for over one hundred and fifty years between the Spanish and the Portuguêse. For years “Colonia” operated as a contraband port, evading the strictures imposed on trade by the Spanish crown. Disputed for more than a century and one half the city finally fell into the hands of the Spaniards.
The lovely Plaza Mayor (the main plaza) is a favorite place to plan your excursion or rest from your excursion!
Excerpt from letter written to family and friends while living in Buenos Aires: “Colonia was founded in l680 by the then Portuguese governor of Rio de Janeiro. The town’s major importance was a source of smuggled trade items, undercutting Spain’s jealously defended mercantile monopoly. British goods made their way from Colonia into Buenos Aires and the interior through exchange with the Portuguese. For this reason, Spanish forces intermittently besieged Portugal’s riverside outpost for decades. Spain finally gained control of Colonia in l777. From this time, the city’s commercial importance declined as foreign goods proceeded directly to Buenos Aires.”
The Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs) is a landmark street in Colonia. This typical Portuguese street is paved with its original cobblestones and is shaped to direct rainwater down to the river. Flanked by similarly old but colorful houses, the street, despite its apparent state of “disrepair,” has on overwhelming charm that instantly transports a visitor back in time.
Another lovely view of the Rio Plata from the Historic District of Colonia, Uruguay.
Wonderful vintage cars, some still proudly used by their owners and some taking root as street decorations, contribute to the magical atmosphere of historical Colonia.
Colonia is a resort town, a port, and the trade center for a rich agricultural region. Built in the Portuguese style of houses with cobblestoned streets the historic portion of Colonia is reminiscent of old Lisbon. Winding streets and colorful houses are a delight to explore. The Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) section of Colonia del Sacramento was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. It is a popular destination for visitors from Buenos Aires with frequent ferry service across the Río de la Plata between the two cities. The historical section of Colonia is within walking distance of the ferry terminal which couldn’t make it easier or more convenient!
Around each corner and down each street you find reminders of the colonial days in Colonia which I find simply marvelous!
Excerpt from Laura’s letter to family and friends while living in Argentina: “Numerous sycamores offer protection from the summer heat, and the Rio de la Plata helps to cool things off while also providing a venue for spectacular sunsets. The colonial-era section of Colonia is a charming place to walk and wander and imagine what life might have been like centuries ago. The streets are still paved with the original stone rocks and cobblestones, the buildings constructed of stone with Portuguese-Spanish architecture, the ruins of lighthouses and fortifications have been preserved, with shady plazas, charming cafes, and a quiet boat harbor to enjoy. The alfresco cafes provide live music with jazz and Brazilian sounds prevailing. They are great places to enjoy the local food and wine which are very much like those in Argentina.”
Alfresco dining in Colonia and watching the world (or the local dogs) go by is a wonderful pastime!
A little local Brazilian music to entertain while the waiter is waiting patiently to serve you! Even though the Spanish ended in control of Colonia, there is still very much a Portuguese (think Brazilian) influence in Colonia.
MY HIGHLIGHTS OF COLONIA:
Puerta de la Ciudadela, also called Puerta de Campo, or Portón de Campo is the City Gate and wooden drawbridge built in 1745 by the Portuguese governor to safeguard the walled city ar the only entrance. Restored, it now marks the beginning of the historic district.
This one-nave church, designed by the famous Spanish architect Tomas Toribio, was completed in 1808. But its present day embodiment is a succession of a few other churches erected in the same place under the common Portugues name Basílica do Santíssimo Sacramento.
Basílica del Santísimo Sacramento was first built from straw and sod in 1680 the year Colonia was founded. Like most structures of that time, it followed typical “birth-and-destruction” cycles for all kind of reasons including fire, structural problems, and wars.
The construction of the lighthouse began in 1845 under the rule of Argentine dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. Because the work was frequently interrupted by wars, it took almost 12 years to complete the project. Finally, on January 24, 1857, the lighthouse located at San Pedro’s Point (Puenta de San Pedro) was opened.
is located in one of Colonia's oldest Portuguese houses and was constructed in the 18th century. The building with its thick two to three feet stone walls and tiled floors is itself an object of great historical worth. The Museum exhibits Portuguese architecture, furnishings, jewelry, military uniforms, old maps of Portuguese naval expeditions, and military standards from the period.
is a recently restored 18th century Portuguese colonial house and museum that embodies the charming, antique setting of Colonia del Sacramento. This museum has collections of art, historia, archaeology, and, and anthropology. My kind of museum!
is located in a Portuguese house dating from 1793 and located on Plaza Mayor with a combination of Portuguese and Spanish items including furnishings, artifacts, documents and other items illustrating colonial life in the city’s different periods and cultures. In 1835, during the Spanish control of Colonia, the house was modernized and enlarged by adding a second floor. It then served as Admiral William Brown’s headquarters (Brown is recognized as the Father of the Argentinean Navy) and became commonly known as "Casa del Almirante Brown."
Museo Español (Spanish Museum)
Museo del Azulejo (Tile Museum)
Shortly after entering the old city of Colonia, you will realize that tiles played a significant part of its colonial past. Street names, house numbers and their owners’ names, and even maps make use of tiles. Colonia’s Tile Museum couldn't be more appropriate. The Tile Museum holds an impressive private collection of old tiles from France, Spain, Portugal and Uruguay from the 18th century. It may be interesting to note that the Spanish name “Azulejo” comes from an Arabic word, “az-zulaiy” (meaning “brick”), which reflects the long presence of the Moorish people on the Iberian (Spaish) Peninsula.
Accordingly, I would like to conclude our visit to Colonia de Sacramento with photographs of some of those marvelous vehicles which we so admired and enjoyed. I hope you do also!
Now this is one good way to get about on the cobblestone streets!
My sincere thanks and appreciation to the following website for inspiration and material: www.amazing-world-in-free-stock-pictures-and-photos.com
I remember hearing many years ago that a picture is worth a thousand words. Those words definitely contributed to and inspired me in the creation of MEXICO AND BEYOND: LAURA'S PHOTO JOURNEY. I hope you have enjoyed this visit to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay and I look forward to seeing you again in the near future. Until then, gracias and safe travels! Laura
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