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Colonia del Sacramento

January 26, 2011

In this post I’m proceeding with my South American adventures and am going to write about the historic pearl of Uruguay—Colonia del Sacramento, or just Colonia. This small colonial town blends together the history and culture of two great Middle Ages empires. Splashes of Spanish and Portuguese heritage can be seen in every landmark of the town.

Colonia is situated in the mouth of Rio de la Plata, therefore, its strategic location and open access to the ocean made the town a matter of constant dispute between Spain and Portugal, and to be more precise, their South American colonies—Argentina and Brazil. Depending on the success of various armed attempts to conquer the fort, Colonia was passed on from one country to another. After years of either Brazilian or Argentine ownership, the town managed to preserve elements of Spanish and Portuguese architectural styles, which makes it really beautiful and unique.

The historical legacy of Colonia is concentrated in the old part of the city. It is surrounded by an authentic fortress wall that features old-fashioned cannons and observation decks, which were especially necessary during past navy attacks. Colonia also offers its visitors multiple museums where you can get to know the history and lifestyle of its inhabitants during various periods of colonial dominion.

You can also enjoy a magnificent view of the surrounding country scenery and Rio de la Plata from the top deck of the old lighthouse, which will require some serious exercise while climbing a very narrow and steep round staircase.

After an exhausting day of exploring local sightseeing under a burning sun and immersing yourself in the history of the Spanish-Portuguese rivalry, it’s so nice to relax at one of the multiple street cafes located at the old town square, sipping cold beer and indulging in delicious Uruguayan food.

To get to Colonia, you can either take a bus from Montevideo that will result in a three-hour trip, or go by ferry Buquebus, also from Montevideo. Both modes of transportation offer free Wi-Fi access, making it an easy and pleasant ride.

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