Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Country Review: Uruguay

Dates there: 10th to 13th February 2014: 4 days

Uruguay's Wonders: none

On the Longlist: Palacio Salvo, as I'm in a generous mood.

Wedged between Argentina and Brazil, just like a bogey between the nose and lips, is the little blob that is Uruguay. Oh dear, what a horrible introduction to poor Uruguay. It's a really nice country, I promise!

Danielle I only spent time in the capital, Montevideo. It was... alright. Montevideo's a very pleasant city but four days was more than enough. In fairness, after Argentina everything in Uruguay seemed scarily expensive, which restricted us, but we also never quite clicked with it. I'm sure it has lots to offer, but we didn't find it. The old part of town, where we stayed, was pleasant in an oldish colonial style way, but no more old and no more pleasant than many others we'd seen in the preceding two months. There was a pleasant walk by the coast, some pleasant little cafes, we took a pleasant bus highlights tour through the city... it was all very... pleasant. But there was no hook.

The scenic highlight of the city is the Plaza Independencia, on the edge of the old part of the city. Like most plazas, it's an open space with a few odds and bods strewn about inside, but like most plazas what makes it are the buildings that surround. The Plaza Independencia has a baffling mix of the grand and the preposterously drab. On one side, we have this:

Well, quite. And on the other, we have this:

This pompous over-stated wonderfulness is the Palacio Salvo. It's just a building really, with no special function, but it's Montevideo's standout. Some people might regard the parliament, the Palacio Legislativo, as the standout, but... well, it's pleasant (a bit boring).

Uruguay's just a little country - a population less than Scotland in an area slightly larger than Britain - and so can't compete with nearby giants like Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Except in football - Uruguay always does very well at football. I think if we'd started in Montevideo we'd have loved it, but by the time we'd arrived it was like meeting the friend of a friend, with impeccable taste but without scintillating conversation.

We didn't have time to visit or justice to rest of the country, so I should state that our impression is as one-dimensional as a tourist that only visits Edinburgh in Scotland.


  1. That Palacio Salvo is quite something. Do you know what architectural style it is? In fact, does it even have an architectural style. I can understand why you don't count it as a Wonder, being familiar with your criteria, but I find it quite striking. Perhaps if it were part of a much larger building (say with four towers like that, maybe each one in the same style but slightly different) I think it could creep in.

    1. A four-towered version... yeah, that would be something. I don't think it has any particular style, though for me if "Gotham City" was a style, it would fit right in.

      It has a twin in Buenos Aires, the Palacio Barolo, by the same guy.


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