Monday, 12 January 2015

Colonia del Sacramento

The main gate

Today we are on a day trip from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, a Unesco World Heritage site. The town was founded by the Portugese in 1680 and ceded to the Spanish in the 1770s. The Barrio Historico is largely unchanged since the colonial era.

After the one hour crossing of the massively wide River Plate, we ambled towards the Barrio Historico along a grassy track with the air full, for some reason, of dragon flies. After 15 minutes or so we reached the recently restored gate of the town.

The immediate impression is the wide, grassy tree-filled Plaza Mayor with scattered low buildings around. We decide on a clockwise meander and headed left and right to follow a wide road parallel to the river.

On the right is the Calle de los suspiros (street of sighs) with rough cobbles and colonial houses from the Portugese era.

On the left this beautifully coloured house.

After this we walked down the side of the river to investigate a restaurant (where we later had a very pleasant lunch). These blue flowers were lovely in the sunshine.

Soon we came to - and climbed - the lighthouse. The lighthouse was started in 1845, but not finished until 1857, work being interrupted by the Great War. (This would be the one between Uruguay and England on the one hand and Argentina on the other.)

The view from the lighthouse is a bit disappointing: you can't see the town for trees, but the beaches further along the river are clearly visible.

 We wend our way towards the far end of Plaza Mayor and then walk towards the river 

which we follow for a while. It is wide and brown and looks thoroughly uninviting, although there are some people on a small beach who are frolicking in it. We keep calling it the sea as we can't see the far bank.

We cross the wide tree-lined Avenida General Flores and walked along a quiet street hedged with bourganvillea ...

... to turn up a narrow street towards the basilica.

On the right a parked car served as a rather stylish flower planter.

The church has two lovely towers and a beautifully proportioned interior.

It can be better appreciated as a whole from the plaza to its south.

On the corner of the plaza was an art shop, with a sort of art deco facade. It looked lovely, but when we get close we saw that the decoration was bits of batten on top of felt. It was both ingenious and effective.

After a leisurely lunch we ambled back to the ferry terminal in brutal late afternoon heat.

Conditions: Sunny and very hot.

Distance: maybe four kilometers.

Rating: four stars. A quiet and charming old town.

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