MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY


Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. According to the 2011 census, the city proper has a population of 1,319,108 (about one third of the country's total population) in an area of 201 square kilometers (78 sq mi). The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated in the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata. Established in 1724, it is the seat of the administrative headquarters of Mercosur and ALADI, Latin America's leading trade blocs, position that entailed comparisons to the role of Brussels in Europe.

Described as a "vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life", and "a thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture", Montevideo
is also regarded as the tenth most gay friendly city in the world, first in Latin America. It is the hub of commerce and higher education in Uruguay as well as its chief port. Despite all this, it is suffering from a rather severe 'brain drain'. A graduate engineer makes about US $400 a month, and pays about US $300 of it to rent a small apartment. Consequently, young people armed with a good education are immigrating elsewhere.

We docked about 8:00 am and headed out on a bus tour highlighting the city. The day's forecast was cloudy with a temperature around 28C/82F
.

     

Montevideo, Uruguay
Montevideo is situated on the north shore of the river Río de la Plata, the arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the south coast of Uruguay from the north coast of Argentina. The port area is peppered with more modern architecture while 'Old Town' has the more traditional Spanish style.
  

The view of the city from our balcony
.
  

That little hill in the distance is the Cerro de Montevideo, situated across the Bay of Montevideo. The hill is home to Fortaleza del Cerro, also known as Fortaleza General Artigas, a fortress overlooking the bay. Although the original fortress was pretty much destroyed during Uruguay Civil War, it was rebuilt and has been a National Monument since 1931 and a military museum since 1916.
Everyone seems to agree that the "Monte" part of the city's name refers to this hill, but there is disagreement about the etymological origin of the "video" part of it's name.
 

Our escort into the harbour.
 
 

We weren't the only cruise ship in port that day, there were two others. The ship in this picture is the MSC Musica.
 

Montevideo is for the most part a very pretty city, full of lovely homes and lots of trees. Oh yes, and lots of cars..

 

Another 'small' house or Casa.


A very opulent home which is believed to be the 'Presidential Palace' of Uruguay.
The President doesn't actually live here, preferring to stay in his own home (something of a trend down here). As a result, it is primarily used for official functions.

 
 
Prada
Park (the view as the bus drove by).

 
 
La diligencia (The Stagecoach)
La Diligencia, is a beautiful bronze scepter created by Uruguay artist José Belloni and is located in the park. Born is Montevideo, he spent most of his early years in Europe, enrolling in the Munich Academy, and participating in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe.

 
Capilla Jackson Church
The Church of the Holy Family, also known as Capilla Jackson, is a Roman Catholic parish church in the neighborhood of Aires Puros. Originally the temple was built as a private chapel for the Jackson family and designed by French architect Víctor Rabú. In 1975 it was declared a National Historical Monument
and is currently a parish church held by the Jesuits.


I took this picture in the park mainly because of the unusually large of the base of the tree. It's as though a branch has sprouted from an old tree trunk.



Monument to Native Uruguayans
Indigenous Uruguayans disappeared in the 1830s, and with the exception of the Guaraní, little is known about these peoples. The Charrúa peoples were perhaps the most talked about indigenous people of the Southern Cone in what was known as the Banda Oriental. They were a semi nomadic people that sustained themselves through fishing, hunting, and gathering.



The extermination of the native peoples, listed on this plaque, was systematic and often brutal.
Then President Rivera actually maintained good relations with the Charrúa initially, however, hostilities developed as the power of the whites advanced and the response was to attack small settlements and isolated houses. The result was a series of
massacres by Spanish soldiers. Those who escaped were later lured to a meeting by Rivera to discuss the protection of the state's borders. Pampered and plied with alcohol, they were herded into a building which the Spanish proceeded to burn down, killing all inside. Today, less then 5% of Uruguay's population can lay claim to having a trace of indigenous blood.


A view of the park across from the monument.



This is one of the not so pretty areas in Montevideo. Of course the reason I took the picture was because of
the presence of Scotiabank, a Canadian bank.


We made a stop at Independence Square, which is home to several government buildings, like this one.


Legislative Palace (Palacio Legislativo)
The seat of the Uruguayan legislative power and one of the architectural jewels of Montevideo. This great work constructed in marble was inaugurated in 1925 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Not only is it where the Senate and the Members of Parliament sit, it also houses one of the most important libraries in the country.


While in the Square, Dina got a hankering for ice cream.


La ciencia (Science)
A sculpture by
Italian artist Giannino CastiglioniFrom 1922 until 1928 Castiglioni worked on the plaster casts for friezes and monumental sculptures for the Palacio Legislativo, which he shipped to Uruguay, where the bronze or marble sculptures were subsequently made.


Izak checking out his photography skills.


In the background is the Torre de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Tower) or Torre Antel (Antel Tower), headquarters of Uruguay's government owned telecommunications company, ANTEL. It is also the tallest building in the country. It was designed by architect Carlos Ott. and completed in 2000 by American Bridge and other design/build consortium team members.


The view of the main drag from the Legislative Palace...


... where they put even put statues on the tops of buildings. I swear, Montevideo has more statues and sculptures than anyplace I've been.


   Another legislative building
You would have noticed by now that while the architecture of Montevideo ranges from Neoclassical buildings to the Postmodern style, the building facades in the Old Town reflect the city's extensive European immigration, displaying the influence of old European architecture.



Of course no city would be complete without it's share of graffiti.


Monument to Fructuoso Rivera
Why they would have a monument for the president responsible for the slaughter of the native peoples is beyond me. Of course having it in front of a shopping centre is rather poetic.



Obelisk of Montevideo
The Obelisk, erected in 1938, is a monument dedicated to those who created the first Constitution, and is the work of sculptor José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín (1891–1975). It is a three sided granite obelisk, with bronze statues on its three sides, representing "Law", "Liberty", and "Force", respectively.



Centenario Stadium
One of many soccer stadiums in Uruguay, the national football (or soccer as it is known here) stadium is
Estadio Centenarioin in Parque Batlle, which was opened in 1930 for the first World Cup championship, which Uruguay won.


La Carreta (the cart)
One of the most impressive sculptures in the city is La Carreta. Located in 
José Batlle y Ordoñez Park (or simply Parque
Batlle, named after the
President of Uruguay from 1911 to 1915). It was created in 1919 by Uruguayan artist José Belloni,
who also did
La Diligencia (The Stagecoach), to commemorate the ox carts that were very much part of life in the 19th
century.
It was cast in Florence, Italy by the Ferdinando Marinelli Artistic Foundry and unveiled in a the park in 1919.


Another view of the sculpture.


While I generally don't like to have my picture taken, every now and then I let Izak take one (keeps him happy).


A local dog walker taking his many charges for a walk in the park.


Back on the bus again - another private home . . .


. . . a not so pretty street . . .


 . . . and your average neighborhood.


Monument to Col. Jose Maria Paz
Brigadier General José María Paz y Haedo (Sept 9, 1791 – Oct 22, 1854) was actually an Argentine military figure, notable in the Argentine War of Independence and the Argentine Civil War. In 1825, he successfully led the war against Brazil for the territories at that time called Provincia Oriental (nowadays Uruguay) and the Misiones Orientales. In the 1840's he fled to Montevideo after being betrayed by his then ally. While in exile, he was named commander in chief of the reserve army that faced the unsuccessful siege on Montevideo, which lasted for 8 years.


The Fight
The monument is  located in the Plaza de la Armada (Army Square) in Punta Gorda overlooking the River Plata. Created by the Spanish Sculptor Eduardo Yepes, it symbolizes the fight between the Seamen and the monster of the sea.


That little brown thing in the middle of the depiction of the sun above the fighters, is actually a bird's mud nest, now abandoned.


The Plaza is full of Eucalyptus trees and aloes, and provides stunning views of the city.


A view of the Seacoast Promenade through the trees . . . .


. . . and over the trees. Oh yes, palm trees are actually native to Uruguay.


    A lovely way to spend an afternoon, sitting under a palm tree overlooking the river.
 

Dina, making her own survey.


When we got back on the bus, I grabbed Izak's hat and put it on backwards for fun, giving him another photo op.


And here we have another small statue hiding under the tree.


I couldn't help but notice that the majority of apartment buildings had blocked windows, and just thought that they were abandoned buildings, until I saw this one. It was then that I realized that the windows each had metal shutter, like a garage door, which could be rolled down to block out the sun and heat. That's one way to 'air condition' an apartment I suppose.


La Rambla
La Rambla is the avenue and beach area on the River Plate s
outh of the Bay of Montevideo, and a great environment for people to do a variety of activities, such as jogging, walking, biking, fishing, kite flying, sunbathing or simply relaxing. Skateboarding and roller skating are also possible in designated areas.


Beach lovers at work.


Faro de Punta Carretas Lighthouse
The original mechanism still operates in this 1876 lighthouse which,
by all accounts, offers a lovely view from the top. I can't attest to that though, since we didn't actually go up it.


The Greetingman
This sculpture
was a gift from Korean sculptor Yoo Young-ho, something he hopes to give to all Korea's allied countries. Not considered one of the local favourites.


Juan Zorrilla de San Martín
Juan Zorrilla de San Martín was a Catholic Uruguayan epic poet – he is referred to as the "National Poet of Uruguay" – and political figure. Two of his most famous poems are Tabaré (the national poem for Uruguayans) and La Leyenda Patria (The patriot legend). As a political figure Juan Zorrilla de San Martín served as a Deputy for Montevideo from 1888 to 1891 and served as Ambassador several periods.


Another view of the Rambla. The statue (yes, another one) is of Vizconde de Mauá, A powerful business man, visionary and entrepreneur who founded Mauá Bank, which opened in 1857 and was the first to print currency within the country.
 

This picture was taken as we approached the Plaza of Independence. The statue is of General Jose Artigas (June 19, 1764 – Sept 23, 1850), a national hero of Uruguay sometimes called "the father of Uruguayan nationhood".


Palacio Salvo (Salvo Palace)

The building was designed by the architect Mario Palanti, an Italian immigrant living in Buenos Aires, who used a similar design for his Palacio Barolo in Argentina. Built in 1928, it was originally intended to be a hotel, but this plan didn't work out, and it has since been occupied by a mixture of offices and private residences.


The Plaza is also home to many offices housing dignitaries from all over the world. If you look closely at this building you will see a familiar flag.



Yep, that's the office of the Canadian Consulate in Uruguay.

Executive Tower (Torre Ejecutiva)
The building is the workplace of the President of Uruguay. The original project was started in 1965 as a future Palace of Justice, but the 1973 coup d'état interrupted it. By the time the military government ended in 1985, the building was too small for the Uruguayan justice system, so the project remained halted for decades until in March 2006, when President Tabaré Vázquez
decided to finish the building and use it as an extension of the Estévez Palace, his other workplace.



Tango at Casona Mauá
Our final stop of the day was a visit to Casona Mau
á, where we were offered a glass (or two) of champagne and entertained with traditional Tango music and dance. The Casona was built in the 1870's and has important architectural and heritage significance. It belonged to the aforementioned Baron and Viscount Mauá, and after an extensive restoration process, it maintains its original beveled glass, Carrara marble, floors, ceilings, moldings and retractable skylight, making it a bastion of Montevideo's historical Old Town. It is also reputed to have many symbols related to 'secret societies'.


The dancing was beautiful, elegant, and very sexy.





There were a couple of things we noticed while they danced. One was that although the Tango is actually a very 'sexy' dance, their hips never touched.





The other was that she had her eyes closed for most of it, indicating total trust in her partner.



What started as a dance demonstration quickly turned into a comic routine where he would start eyeing the women in the audience, asking them to dance, and she in turn would woo the men to get him jealous, causing him to return.



One of the women he got on the dance floor was none other than our own Dina.




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