The City was once protected by walls and a large fortress. Here at the western edge of Plaza Independecia is the one remant of the colonial citadel – razed in 1833. You can also get a feeling for the old walls down near the west end of the peninsula, by the breakwater where old cannon faced out onto the waters of the Rio de la Plata in search of those would-be invaders. Now inhabited by fishermen in search of tonight's meal.
The anchor and "Range finder" of the german battleship "Admiral von Spee" can be seen in the cruise-port, just a few steps from the place, where all the cruiseships are docking.
The german battleship "Admiral Graf Spee" was one of the most famous battleships in WW II : In 1939 she sank 9 merchant-ships of the Allied states but was finally damaged herself by 3 british warships following her in the "Battle of the river Plate". She could escape to be repaired in the neutral port of Montevideo. According to international laws she was secure there only for 72 hours and had to leave the port again within that time. The captain of the "Admiral Spee" decided to give up and sink the ship rather than risking the lifes of his crew and soldiers.
The range finder of Admiral Graf Spee was raised in 2004 in a distance of 8 km from the city of Montevideo.
In the street taking you from the cruise-port to Puerta de la Ciudadela and to Plaza Indenpendencia you will find lots of souvenir-stands, mainly the kind of stuff made especially for tourists, nothing special but good enough for the hasty tourist who does not want to waste his time at the much better souvenir-market opposite of the cathedral .
Banco de la Republica Oriental del Uruquay is the full name of this great neo-classical building that was built between 1926 and 1938. You will find it close to the place, where the cruiseships are docking.
It is a bank-building with security-guards inside, who will stop you immediately when you are trying to take any photographs, but you are welcome to take a look, it is quite interesting to see that there is a giant hall with all of the counters in the centre and from there you can see to the roof of the building.
It is also great to walk around the building from outside and see the great details of architecture there.
Walk down Perez Castellano from the Mercado andyou will come to Washington. Turn left and walk through the pleasant Plaza Zabala and beyond to Rincon on the other side. Four short blocks takes you to Plaza Constitution – the old cabildo, now a museum, sits on the east side. On the west side is Montevideo’s cathedral, Iglesia Matriz. Begun in 1784 and finished in 1799, the church is the oldest building in Montevideo. Inside, similar to what you find in the Catedral Metropolitan in BsAs, you can find the tomb of a national hero, General Juan Lavalleja, in this case. Lavalleja was the leader of the 33 Orientales who chased away the Brazilians in 1827 . Lavelleja’s home can be found in museum form one block north of the Plaza Zabala.
Montevideo is quite a flat area and so it is hard to believe where the name of the city came from according to an old ledgend : When a ship was sailing along the cost a spanish sailor was shouting Monte video ( I see a mountain ).
In fact the small mountain is in quite a distance from the modern city of Montevideo and you will see in in the distance from the cruiseport, on top of it there is a fortified castle.
Palacio Santos is the name of this beautiful building in the centre of the city and it is the building of the Ministry of foreign affairs nowadays. Palacio Santos was built between 1881 and 1886 and you can enter it freely and without restrictions during the day. Taking photographs is no problem at all, there is just a guard - in my case it was a nice lady - who made sure that no tourists would enter any of the doors that are off limits for them.
Palacio Municipal does not look very attractive at the first sight, but it is well worth to take a closer look : First of all you will see a giant replica of Michelangelo's "David" standing in front of the building. This replica of David was made in Firenze / Florenz in 1931. (see my last picture!)
inside the building you will see some more works of art and the town-map on the floor (see my next tip !)
Iglesia Matriz is the name of the cathedral of Montevideo and you will find it in the centre of the old town. The church was built in 1790 and it is worth to take a look inside, my favorite work of art there was the sculptures below the main altar, see my 3rd photograph. You can enter this church freely and without restrictions during the day, photography is no problem.
Palacio Taranco was built in 1907 and is about 500 meters east of Plaza Independencia and about the same distance from the cruiseship-port. On my main picture you will see the entrance-gate of it and nowadays it is the Museo de Artes Decorativas, the museum of decorative Arts. Dont miss to walk around the block and see the lovely garden of this palace as well (my pictures 3-5)
Museo Historico National was built in the beginning of the 19th and first it used to be the residence of the president of the Republic of Uruguay. While passing by I had a quick look into the hall, where you can see a lot of interesting exhibits already and when I raised my camera I heared loud and clearly "NO Photograph" so that was the moment for me to leave this building again without taking a closer look.
Take a look at my 2nd pic : an old cannon marks the street-corner in front of the museum, a funny idea and a great reminder to go to that museum.
I made sure that I got myself to Montevideo on a Sunday evening, because it was a priority for me to see/hear the local music, candombe. And, it didn't disappoint. We were told that we should NOT bring cameras, or anything else that made us stand out in that neighborhood; that the neighborhood was economically depressed, yet culturally rich. And, it was. And, an incredible experience.
It works like this, at sometime around 7 or 8pm on Sunday nights, local musicians come out on Isle de Flores, in the Barrio Sur, to practice their drumming. It's not just their mesmerizing rhythm that makes it so speciall, but rather the fact that it is a neighborhood event. People come out and sing and dance in front of the drummers as they walk down the street. Little kids are given small drums, to be just like the big kids. People hang out of their windows.
This is NOT to be missed.
Also, want to thank Neil Weiss, who has the website listed below for his great info on this fantastic music/event.
Iglesia de San Francisco & the Colonial art museum were under total reconstruction, while I had been in Montevideo. The church dates back to the year 1864 and you will find it at the east part of the old town of Montevideo, 3 blocks from the cruise-port and not far from Banco Ingles de Rio de Janeiro
Plaza Costitution / Plaza Matriz is a small square in the centre of the old town of Montevideo. There is a lovely fountain in the middle and around of it you will find shady trees, benches and a fine flea-market - see my shopping tip !
Next to Plaza Costitution there is the cathedral Iglesia Matriz and Club Uruguay.
El Cabildo (Town Council) is a stern building situated at Ciudad Vieja; its construction began in 1804, in charge of Tomás Toribio, a Spaniard architect. It was the centre of political activities of Montevideo for a long time; in 1959, it became Historical Museum; nowadays, different kind of exhibitions and concerts take place here; all the activities are free.
El Cabildo es un edificio austero situado en la Ciudad Vieja; su construcción comenzó en 1804, a cargo del arquitecto español Tomás Toribio. Fue el centro de las actividades políticas de Montevideo por mucho tiempo; en 1959, pasó a ser Museo Histórico; en la actualidad, diferentes tipos de exposiciones y conciertos tienen lugar allí; todas las actividades son gratuitas.
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