Montevideo is the largest city, capital and chief port of Uruguay. Montevideo is the
primate city in Uruguay, the only city in the country with a population over 1,600,000.
Montevideo has a privileged harbor, one of the most important in the Americas. Also,
it has beautiful beaches, like Pocitos, Buceo, Malvín, Playa de los Ingleses, Playa
Verde, Punta Gorda and Carrasco. Many monuments and museums cover the city,
as well as historic buildings and squares.
Montevideo is the Latin American city with the highest quality of life (followed by
Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile). See also La Nación -Chilean newspaper
article that mentions the three Latin American cities with highest quality of life
according to the MHRC 2007 investigation
There are at least two explanations for the name Montevideo: The first states that it
comes from the Portuguese "Monte vide eu" which means "I see a hill". The second
is that the Spaniards recorded the location of a mountain in a map as "Monte VI De
Este a Oeste" meaning "The sixth hill from east to west". The city's full original name
is San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo.
The Portuguese founded Colonia del Sacramento in the 17th century despite
Spanish claims to the area due to the Treaty of Tordesillas. The Spanish chased the
Portuguese out of a fort in the area in 1724. Then, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala –
governor of Buenos Aires – founded a military base there on December 24, 1726 to
prevent further incursions. By 1730 the population increased and the military base
got the right to have its own Cabildo (Town-Hall), which stimulated its growth. The
first settlers arrived from Canary Islands, brought by Francisco de Alzáibar. The city's
first economic boom occurred when the Spanish Crown gave Montevideo the right to
be the only slave port in the Viceroyalty of la Plata, which infuriated the Viceroyalty's
capital, Buenos Aires.
During World War II, a famous incident involving the German pocket battleship
Admiral Graf Spee took place in Punta del Este, 200 km from Montevideo. After the
Battle of the River Plate with the British navy on December 13, 1939, the Graf Spee
retreated to Montevideo's port, which was considered neutral then. To avoid risking
the crew in what he thought would be a losing battle, Captain Hans Langsdorff
scuttled the ship on December 17. Langsdorff committed suicide two days later. On
10 February 2006, the eagle figurehead of the Admiral Graf Spee was salvaged. To
protect the feelings of those still sensitive to Nazi Germany, the swastika on the
figurehead was covered as it was pulled from the water.
Since 2005 the Mayor of Montevideo (styled Intendente Municipal in Spanish) has
been Ricardo Ehrlich, of the Frente Amplio (Broad Front), gaining 61% of the vote in
the Mayoral elections, beating Pedro Bordaberry of the Partido Colorado, who scored
PLACE TO VISIT
Estadio Centenario - is a stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay, used primarily for
football. Built with a capacity of 100,000 not only to host several matches in the
inaugural 1930 FIFA World Cup, including the final which was won by the host team,
but also as a celebration of Uruguay's 100 years of its first constitution. It is listed by
FIFA as one of the world's classic football venues along with Maracanã, Wembley
Stadium, San Siro, and Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.
Palacio Salvo - is a building in Montevideo, Uruguay, located at the intersection
of 18 de Julio Avenue and Plaza Independencia. It was designed by the architect
Mario Palanti, an Italian immigrant living in Buenos Aires, who used a similar design
for his Palacio Barolo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Finished in 1925, Palacio Salvo
stands 100 metres high with the antenna included and was the tallest building in
South America at the time.
Solis Theatre - is the name of Uruguay's oldest theatre. It was built in 1857 and
is currently owned by the government of Montevideo. It is located in Plaza
Independencia (Ciudad Vieja). In 1998, the government of Montevideo started a
major reconstruction of the theatre, which enden in 2004
Legislative Palace - is the name of the working place of the General
Assembly of Uruguay. The construction of this building started in 1904 under the
presidence of José Batlle y Ordoñez and it was finished in 1925. Before that year, the
Uruguayan parliament worked at the Montevideo Cabildo.
Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral - is the main catholic church of
Montevideo. It is located right in front of the Cabildo across Constitution Square, in
Montevideo Cabildo - is the public building in Montevideo that was used as
the government house during the colonial times of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate.
Today the building is used as a museum. It is located in front of Constitution Square,
in Ciudad Vieja.
National History Museum - spread between five old historic houses, holds
important bits of the country's history. Entrance: free.
sexual diversity monument - erected in 2005, is located on Policia Vieja
St., between Plaza de la Constituición and Plaza Independencia. It reads "Honouring
diversity is honouring life; Montevideo is for the respect of all identities and sexual
orientations". It's South America's first monument dedicated to sexual diversity. Other
places of interest to gay people include the Edificio Liberaij, where two gay Argentine
bank robbers (featured in the 1998 movie Plata Quemada) died in 1965.
Plaza Independecia - the Independence Square at the end of the 18 de Julio
WHAT TO DO
Any part of the Rambla waterside roadway has people biking, fishing, drinking mate,
and enjoying the great views. 22 kilometers-long (13.6 miles), the Rambla goes
along Montevideo's waterfront. Try sunset.
Spend part of Sunday morning with the locals at La Feria Tristán Narvaja Flea Market
on the Tristán Narvaja Street. Everything from t-shirts, antiques and kitchen supplies.
It's right off of 18 de Julio and the entrance is often marked by people selling puppies.
Walk around! While not an especially beautiful city, it is an especially safe one. You
can walk around without worry almost anywhere, and there are lots of side streets
and areas you can explore. Parts of the city may appear run-down, but do not
confuse this with it being a bad neighborhood. This and Buenos Aires are probably
the two cities in South America where poverty is not overly prevalent. That being said,
there is simply not enough money in Uruguay to have lots of new and modern
buildings, so buildings are kept in use for long periods of time.
Have a coffee in the Radisson Hotel's 25th floor café (elevators in the back of the
building) for an overhead view of the Ciudad Vieja and the port. Right off Plaza de la
HOW TO REACH
The Montevideo Carrasco International Airport (IATA: MVD) airport is about 15km east
of the city center. Buses depart right outside the airport to Terminal Rio Branco, just
north of many major sites downtown (easily walkable to hotels). The cost is cabs to
the center should cost little more than 200 pesos.
The Buquebus station, with convenient boat shuttles between Buenos Aires,
Colonia, and Montevideo, is on the west side of the city. The Puerto Mercado is within
walking distance, and cabs are easily accessible from the station. 65 Uruguayan
Pesos should get you to Plaza Independencia, near the heart of the city.