Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, is set on an estuary of the Plata River. The city was first settled by the Portuguese as a bastion against the Spanish, who had already established Buenos Aires nearby. Spain expelled the Portuguese from Montevideo in 1724.
Our bus tour today took us to the most important locations in the Old City, which was originally a walled city. Today only a couple of pieces of the walls remain. But Independence Plaza features a monument to the walled city:
(Click on any photo to see a larger version.)
This plaza also showcases some of the city’s colonial-era buildings, including the early home of the parliamentary legislative council, shown in the photo at the top of this post. The building is now a museum. Government business takes place in a much newer building in the next block down the street.
Just off one corner of the plaza is the old theater:
The focus of Independence Plaza is a huge statue, erected in the 1920s, of José Gervasio Artigas, Uruguay’s national hero who first had a plan for the country’s independence from Spain.
Friezes all around the statue depict the masses of people who followed Artigas. He was impressed by the government of the United States and wanted to establish Uruguay as an independent nation with a similar form of governance. After a long and complicated history involving Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and Britain, Uruguay was consolidated as an independent state in 1828, with Montevideo as the capital.
Uruguay now has a large Parliament building, the Legislative Palace, that was completed in 1925. It is made of granite and 22 different kinds of marble, all from various areas of the country.
In front of the building fly Uruguay’s national flag (left) and the Artigas flag (right).
Approximately 1 million of Uruguay’s population of 3 million people live in Montevideo. The capital city contains all the country’s colleges. University education is free, but those who live outside the capital must relocate to Montevideo to take advantage of these educational opportunities.
The main resource of Uruguay’s economy is beef. This country of 3 million people houses 12 million head of cattle.
© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown