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Posted on 01.31.2015

Montevideo, the capital and largest city of Uruguay, is described by National Geographic as offering “refined cosmopolitan attractions to rival those of any city in the hemisphere.” A city of 1.5 million people -- a third of the country’s population – Montevideo offers visitors lots to see and do. Tourists may wander the city’s numerous beachfront promenades, taste the favorite local drink “mate” and explore the historic and contemporary landmarks of Montevideo.

Ciudad Vieja is the name given to the heart of Old Montevideo, the center of which is marked by Plaza Independencia, a wide, palm-lined square. The plaza features a statue marking the underground tomb of national hero Jose Gervasio Artigas, a revolutionary leader regarded as the father of Uruguayan independence. Major landmarks in the area include an ornate cathedral constructed around 1790 to 1804, and the Cabildo de Montevideo, the Colonial House of Government. Other historic features are Casa Rivera, the 19th-century home of Uruguay’s first president Fructuosa Rivera; and Casa Garibaldi, the former home of the 19th-century Italian hero Guiseppe Garibaldi who was exiled in Uruguay after joining an anti-royal revolt in Italy. Both buildings house collections of paintings, antiques, furniture and historic artifacts.

Mercado del Puerto is a marketplace made up of storefronts on Piedras, Perez Castilian and Rambla August streets that was established more than 130 years ago and is protected as a National Historic Monument. The marketplace features ornate architectural features such as wrought iron balustrades and an old English chiming clock as a centerpiece. The modern Mercado del Puerto offers a bustling atmosphere; coffee shops and bars; street vendors selling art and souvenirs; and restaurants with shaded terrace seating offering Uruguayan steak specialties.

The Carnival Museum, located opposite the port, celebrates the annual festivities of Montevideo’s Carnival. Running from January until March, the city’s festival is the longest in the world and the pride of Montevideo. The museum showcases costumes, vehicles and instruments from past Carnivals and details the African origins of the festival. The displays are arranged in chronological order from colonial-era Carnivals to the most recent, including the costumes worn by the award-winning murgas - groups of musical performance artists -- from the 2006 festival.



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