Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay's province of Colonia, is steeped in hisotry. It was the only Portuguese settlement along the Rio de la Plata. Founded as Nova Colonia do Sacramento
in 1680 by Manuel de Lobo,and as such was the focus of struggle between the Spanish, who
founded the settlement at Montevideo in response, and the
Portuguese over control of the area. For years it operated as a contraband port,
evading the strictures imposed on trade by the Spanish crown. Today it is a
resort city, a port, and the trade center for a rich agricultural region.
Built in Portuguese style of houses and cobblestoned streets, the historic portion of Colonia is reminiscent of old Lisbon. Winding streets and colorful houses are laid out
in a pattern different from Spanish colonial cities, and a delight to explore.
The historic quarter, Barrío Historico, on a small peninsula
jutting out into the river, was named a UNESCO
heritage site in 1995. Photos.
Colonia del Sacramento is across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires, and is the
main water thoroughfare for visitors from Argentina to access any part of Uruguay.
Many travelers stop to enjoy the excellent restaurants, art and craft shops, museums
and a large yacht harbor.
- Aeropuerto Internacional de Colonia Laguna de los Patos is located 6 km from
the city center for smaller airplanes and helicopters.
- From Buenos Aires, by bridges Puentes Zárate-Brazo Largo and Internacional Libertador General San Martín
- From Salto, via Puente Concordia to Paysandu and then on
- From within Uruguay, by road.
Within the city and the province, taxis and bus service are available
- From Buenos Aires, the choice of the Buquebus
or Ferry bus
When to Go
Uruguay's pleasant climate makes any season a good time to visit
Colonia, one of South America's least visited treasures, but high season
during the summer months may make reservations harder to get
Check today's weather.
Things to Do and See
Puerta de la Ciudadela, also called Puerta de Campo, is a drawbridge
built in 1745 by the Portuguese governor to safeguard the walled city as the
only entrance. Restored, it marks the beginning of the historic district,
with thick fortified walls and tile and stucco buildings
Bastion del Carmen, today a theater and cultural center, was once a factory
El Faro, the lighthouse,
was constructed in 1857 from stones from the ruins of
Convento de San Francisco, and is a highlight along the Rio del Plata.
Museo Portugues on Plaza Mayor is a look at Portuguese architecture, furnishings
and military uniforms, standards and other items from the period
Museo Municipal, also on Plaza Mayor, is a combination of Portuguese and Spanish
items with furnishings and other items illustrating colonial life
Museo Español eshibits more of colonial life, with replicas of pottery, clothing,
maps and more
The Plaza de Toros or bull ring, in nearby Real de San Carlos, was built in 1910 and saw only 8 bullfights before bullfighting was prohibited in 1912. The bullring was part of an huge complex inclduding
a jai alai court, a hotel and racecourse. Only the racecourse is still functioning.
Swiss immigrants founded Colonia Suiza which soon became the dairy and wheat providers
for the rest of the country
Boat tours of the Parana river leave from Carmelo, northwest of Colonia
Shopping, Dining and Lodgings
Dine at one of these
Camping Municipal de Colonia near the Balneario (beach) Municipal has good
Handicrafts, food and live music at La Casona del Sur
Many small shops and boutiques in the historic district
The Sunday market in the Plaza Mayor
Have you been to Colonia or anywhere else in Uruguay?
If so, write us a review!