Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay. There are more than a million inhabitants in the city, representing approximately one third of the country's population. It is across the bay from Buenos Aires, the capital of Brazil, and is the southernmost capital city of the Americas. Since 2005, the city's quality of life index has been the highest in Latin America. The position of this small country was seen as a strategic vantage point for power plays on the continent. Uruguay was occupied and colonized until achieving independence in 1830. Football is a national passion and Uruguay has won the World Cup twice.
In 1840 Montevideo had 40000 inhabitants and one theater, a comedy house. A committee, in broad consultation with stakeholders, sought to create a Colosseum, a theater to rival the best in Europe. Architect Mariano Arana created a design that was inspired by elements of the great Italian opera houses. Siberian wood, Italian marble and slate were used in the construction. In 1856, the Teatro Solis, opened, unfinished, with a presentation of “Ernam” by Verdi. Two wings, housing businesses associated with the theater, were completed between 1869 and 1874. There are a range of guided tours on offer, a café and a souvenir shop.
Reconquista S / N esq., Bartolomé Miter, Montevideo, Phone: 05-98-19-50-33-23
2.Jardín Botanico de Montevideo
The Botanical Gardens in Montevideo were established in the early 1900s. The chief gardeners were brothers, Ernest and Carlos Racine. The 1.5 ha historic section is still in existence and blends in well with rest of the 13 ha space. The gardens showcase living collections of seasonal, indigenous, aquatic, herbal and other plant species, and the birds and butterflies that are attracted to them. Education resources include guided tours, courses, talks, publications, a library and an online virtual exhibition. Besides the many meandering paths through the gardens, there is an aerobic circuit and a trail of vegetable monuments.
Av. April 19 1181, Montevideo, Phone: 598-23-36-40-05
Humberto Pittamiglio was an architect, engineer, politician and alchemist. He was an eccentric, born of working class Italian immigrants in 1887. On the family plot he constructed his castle, an eclectic mix of Middle Ages, Renaissance, Cubism and other styles with a network of labyrinthine paths. The multi-story edifice grew organically over time and has 54 rooms with 33 doors and countless stairs. Every detail, inside and out, is said to be symbolic. The castle is close to the waterfront and surrounded by apartment blocks. It is used for plays, concerts and spiritual workshops. There is a daily guided tour.
Rambla Mahatma Gandhi 633, Montevideo, Phone: 27-10-10-89
4.Mercado del Puerto
© Matyas Rehak/stock.adobe.com
The old port market was a private initiative inaugurated in 1868. The iron structure was constructed in Liverpool and shipped to Montevideo for assembly. Fruit, vegetables, meat, and even slaves, were auctioned there. It is now an indoor food mall with many restaurants, wine stores, bars and kiosks, all vying for local and tourist trade. The grill masters can be seen at work and the aromas permeate the air. Meat is king but seafood and vegetarian options are also available. Traditional clothing and handicrafts, old and new souvenirs, and art are for sale in market stalls. Performers sing and dance to entertain the patrons.
Perez Castellano, Esquina Com Rambla 25 de Agosto de 1825, Montevideo
5.Museo del Carnaval
© Museo del Carnaval
The Montevideo Carnival is one of the oldest and most popular traditions in Uruguay. It is also the longest carnival in the world. It is held each year, for 40 consecutive nights from January to March. The small carnival museum is situated near the port and, fittingly, has a cobblestone street running through it. The permanent exhibition chronicles the carnival since colonial times and highlights the indigenous and African influences on the event. The winning costumes are on display. The outreaches include workshops, guided walks and behind-the-scenes tours. The souvenir shop sells branded merchandise and carnival memorabilia.
218 Corner Maciel, Montevideo, Phone: 05-98-29-15-08-07 or 29-16-54-93
The Centennial Stadium was built as the centerpiece for the 1930 FIFA World Cup. The Uruguayan team, reigning Olympic champions, took the Cup, 4-2, against Argentina in the final. The 100m high Tower of Tributes was built after Uruguay won the World Cup a second time in 1950. The seating capacity is 60000, in four grandstands. There is a police station, school and the Museum of Uruguayan Football underneath the grandstands. The name of the stadium was a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the country's constitution. There are plans to bid for the 2030 World Cup to celebrate the bicentenary.
Centennial Stadium, Montevideo, Uruguay 11400, Phone: 24-87-20-59
7.Letrero de Montevideo
© Olaf Speier/stock.adobe.com
The Montevideo sign on the Pocitos beach was one of two erected in 2012 to welcome delegates of an international conference. It proved so popular that a concrete version was made to replace the original. The backdrop takes in the entire beachfront and it is a pleasant place from which to watch the sunset. The sign is often painted to reflect historical or current events. It is one of the mandatory stops for a photograph for Instagram or the family album. A drone photographer is on hand to download a momento directly to visitors' phones.
8.Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales
© Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales
The Museum of Fine Arts came into existence by decree in 1911. More than a century later, the name has changed and it has become the most important art museum in the country. For the first year it was housed in the left wing of the newly built Teatro Solis. The museum then moved to the current premises which, for a variety of reasons, were inadequate until they were renovated in the 1970s. Few of the original 234 pieces remain. The museum now has 6500 works, a library with 8000 volumes, an auditorium and a video department where documentaries are made.
Tomás Giribaldi 2283 esq., Julio Herrera and Reissig, Parque Rodó – Montevideo, Phone: +598-27-11-60-54
9.Sofitel Montevideo Carrasco Hotel
This historic hotel and casino was built on the seafront in 1921. It was known as 'The Palace on the Sand' and attracted the wealthy and elite of Uruguay and abroad. The hotel fell into disrepair by the 1990s and was closed for restoration and modernization for more than a decade. It was reopened in 2013 under management of the French Hotel chain, Sofitel. The hotel has 93 rooms and 23 suites. Restaurant 1921 serves French cuisine with a local twist. The 3000 square meter casino has 23 casino tables and 400 gaming terminals and hosts regular tournaments.
Rambla Republica de Mexico 6451, 11500, MONTEVIDEO, Phone: +598-26-04-60-60
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10.Catedral Metropolitana de Montevideo
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The history of the Iglesia Matriz started in 1730 when land was allocated under the first city plan. A modest brick church was built on the site in 1740 and the basilica's construction was started in 1790. It was inaugurated in 1804, raised to the status of cathedral in 1878 and basilica in 1897. As such it is considered to be the Mother Church of southern South America. The majestic structure is emblematic of Montevideo and has inspired many artists. It contains the tombs of several prominent people, including soldiers who died in the British invasion. It is the seat of the Diocese of Montevideo and is open 7 days a week.
Calle Ituzaingó 1373 Pedestrian corner Sarandí., Plaza Matriz, Ciudad Vieja – Montevideo 11100, Phone: +598-29-15-70-18
11.Museo Del Futbol
© Museo Del Fútbol
The Football Museum in Montevideo is situated under the Olympic grandstand of the Centennial Stadium, where the first ever FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. The stadium was declared a Historic Monument of World Football in 1983. The museum explores the history of international and Uruguayan football. Exhibits include banners, trophies, signed uniforms, posters, match programs, tickets, photos and news clippings of significant events. The entrance fee includes access to the stadium and the gift shop. Access to the 100m Tower of Tributes is at an additional cost but the view from the top is worth it.
Centennial Stadium, Montevideo, Uruguay 11400, Phone: 24-87-20-59
12.General Artigas Fortress
© Domingos SAS/stock.adobe.com
The fortress on the hill of Montevideo is named after Prince General Artigas. It was built on the highest point of the city, in 1809, in order to protect the lighthouse which had been built in 1801. It was also used to house guards and as a military prison. It was declared a National Monument in 1931 and is represented on the Uruguayan coat of arms. Its cannon battery is used to welcome friendly ships and to signal sunset each evening. It is one of three such defense structures. The other two are the forts of Santa Teresa and San Miguel.
The Blanes Museum was founded in 1930. The building was modeled on a Palladian village and was declared a National Historic Monument in 1975. It is supported by the Friends of the Blanes Museum. There are two permanent exhibitions of the realist and modernist paintings of Juan Manual Blanes and Pedro Figari, respectively. The rest of the 4000 paintings and sculptures in the museum's collection are exhibited on a rotational basis. The museum regularly hosts workshops, lecture series and conferences. It also conducts research, conserves artworks and curates archives. Besides the galleries, there are meeting spaces, a library and a gift shop.
Millán Avenue 4015, Montevideo, Phone: 598-23-36-22-48
14.Feria Tristan Narvaja
This traditional street market was started decades ago by Italian immigrants. It operates from early morning to mid-afternoon, on Sundays only, in the Cordón neighborhood. The makeshift stalls stretch from the main street, Av 18 de Julio, for seven blocks down Calle Tristán Narvaja. The street is closed off to vehicles but browsers need to cross several busy intersections to see it all. The souvenirs, antiques and other goods that appeal more to foreigners are closest to the main street end. For the rest of the week the shops that line the street sell old books and antiquities.
15.Doña Inés Dulces Tentaciones
Aptly named, Sweet Temptations, this patisserie is run by two sisters, Doña and Inés. It is a quaint tea room in Pocitos, a block from the ocean. It has space for fewer than 20 guests at five tables and operates in the afternoons and early evenings only. Reservations are advised. There are set options such as Tea for Two as well as a rich variety of mouthwatering home-made delicacies and desserts to choose from. It is a cozy place to spend a cold afternoon. The hostesses are helpful with information about local attractions. The shop also takes orders for novelty cakes and cupcakes.
Miguel Barreiro 3293, 11300 Montevideo, Uruguay, Phone: +598-27-08-03-49
Venancio Munoz Brito founded an empanada eatery in 1960. His granddaughter, Carolina, is carrying on the family tradition from a kiosk inside the old port market. Empanadas are small pies made with a pastry that soaks up the moisture of the filling without becoming soggy. Carolina has a range of cheese, seafood, meat, vegetarian and sweet empanadas. They can be purchased individually or in boxes of 12 or 36. The content of the boxes could be raw, frozen, baked or fried.
Stones 237 local 20, Port Market, Montevideo, Phone: 29-16-64-10
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Chef Gabriel Coquel is the General Manager of Tandory. He is the kind of chef who is interested in every detail of the business. The restaurant is a 'kitchen without borders'. All the flavors of the world are served here and the décor is an eclectic mix of European, Latin and Asian finishes. The menu changes daily, depending on what ingredients are in season and available at the market. Some dishes are classics, some are fusions of tastes and others are totally new inventions. Diners are seated upstairs in the two-story building. The comprehensive wine cellar is at the lower level.
Libertad 2851, Montevideo, Phone: +598-27-09-66-16
18.Bouza Bodega Boutique Winery
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A little more than 20 miles north east of Montevideo, in the Canelones region, is a small but notable boutique winery. It is run by a family who enjoy the entire wine-making process from the grape to the glass. Their estate wines made from 'white' Albarino grapes and the red Tannat grapes are gaining recognition. The 20 ha vineyards and winery have become a tourist destination. Half-day package tours offer wine-tasting, food-tasting and pairing. The gift shop sells Bouza wines and a range of wine lovers' paraphernalia. The family's collection of classic cars and even the cat are star attractions.
Camino La Redencion 7658, 12500 Montevideo, Phone: +598-23-23-74-91
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18 Best Things to Do in Montevideo, Uruguay
- Teatro Solis, Photo: Waldteufel/stock.adobe.com
- Jardín Botanico de Montevideo, Photo: AnnaReinert/stock.adobe.com
- Castillo Pittamiglio, Photo: Ernesto/stock.adobe.com
- Mercado del Puerto, Photo: Matyas Rehak/stock.adobe.com
- Museo del Carnaval, Photo: Museo del Carnaval
- Estadio Centenario, Photo: luzitanija/stock.adobe.com
- Letrero de Montevideo, Photo: Olaf Speier/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Photo: Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales
- Sofitel Montevideo Carrasco Hotel, Photo: Afflamen/stock.adobe.com
- Catedral Metropolitana de Montevideo, Photo: Matyas Rehak/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Del Futbol, Photo: Museo Del Fútbol
- General Artigas Fortress, Photo: Domingos SAS/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Blanes, Photo: danflcreativo/stock.adobe.com
- Feria Tristan Narvaja, Photo: danflcreativo/stock.adobe.com
- Doña Inés Dulces Tentaciones, Photo: massimo/stock.adobe.com
- Empanadas Carolina, Photo: tomalu/stock.adobe.com
- Tandory, Photo: Tandory
- Bouza Bodega Boutique Winery, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: ivoderooij/stock.adobe.com