• Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento

Visit: 3rd March 2013

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By Tom

I was down in South America earlier this year and, before I conceived of the WHS challenge, happened to visit Colonia del Sacramento – the only WHS in Uruguay. My pilot friend Gérman had borrowed a plane, so we flew from Buenos Aires to the *International* airport in Colonia.

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I’ve been to some quiet airports before, but this one was something else. We had to wait with the air traffic controller when we arrived whilst two customs officials drove from the seaport to the airport just to stamp our passports!

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Uruguay (officially “The Oriental Republic of Uruguay”  – who knew?) is the second smallest country in South America (after Suriname), and Colonia is its oldest town. It was the dominant city in the country some time before the ascendance of the modern-day capital, Montevideo. Originally settled by the Portuguese in 1680, the Spanish – who had established control in neighbouring Argentina – fought them nine times over the course of a century, resulting in the city changing hands numerous times.

One unique characteristic of the city is the blend of Spanish and Portuguese influences. One of those is the different style of road paving that remain visible today. Apparently the Portuguese liked to build their roads with an adverse camber, so that the rain would collect and flow down the middle. The Spanish preferred to build theirs with a normal camber, whereby the road is more humped in the middle and rain flows to the sides (like our modern roads). It sounds arcane, but you can really see the Spanish style in this picture.

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The town is very attractive, and the weather was great (March is summer in the southern hemisphere after all). This is the Basilica of the Holy Sacrament.

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And this is down by the waterfront.

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We had lunch and an ice cream, then it was time to start heading back. I got a good view of the Plaza de toros Real de San Carlos bullring on the way out. It is relatively recent, being from 1910.

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On the journey back we passed over the Island of Martín García, which we had actually visited a week before. The island is a former Argentine penal colony, and even Juan Perón did time here.

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