Solo un Sol: Las Calles de Colonia
On the other side of Montevideo to the northwest is Colonia, the port it was meant to rival. Manuel de Lobo, from Portugal, founded Nova Colinia de Sacramento in 1680 in the Portuguese style. Centuries of struggle between Spain and Portugal over the port left a conglomeration of both neat and haphazard cobblestones and peaked and flat roofs.
In 1995 the town was named Humanity Heritage, which means that the town plans, physical edifices, and public areas are all protected under national law because they were deemed to have “outstanding universal value.”
At its entrance, Porton de Campo, or the Drawbridge Entrance, was built in 1745 and the drawbridge still opens to Colonia. However, the Buenos Aires it faces across the river has grown much larger through the centuries. The town’s main square, Plaza 25 de Mayo Mayor, is where soldiers would train.
A popular and well known side street with uneven cobble stones, Calle de Suspiros—the “street of sighs”—doesn’t have an official namesake. Theories include criminal hangings, a romantic murder, and luring prostitutes. Regardless of the origin, the street is pretty and receives many sighs of appreciation.
Buildings and features were added by the Portuguese and the Spanish over the centuries. (At one point the city had changed hands 17 times.) Between 1683 and 1704 the San Francisco Convent was built, and El Faro was constructed in 1857, overlooking (and incorporating) the crumbling walls of the convent. Basílica del Santísmo Sacramento, also worth a visit, was built of stone by the Portuguese in 1808.
The list of buildings to visit continues at length: La Plaza de Toros, Camping Municipal de Colonia, La Casona del Sur, Bernandi Winery, and Avenida General Flores are only a few. Like most of what I see in Uruguay, I wish I could continue to explore and know the area deeper.