Colonia del Sacramento: Wikis


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Colonia del Sacramento
Basilica del Sanctísimo Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento is located in Uruguay
Colonia del Sacramento
Coordinates: 34°28′17″S 57°50′39″W / 34.47139°S 57.84417°W / -34.47139; -57.84417
Country Uruguay
Department Colonia Department
Founded 1680
Founder Manuel Lobo
Elevation 27 m (89 ft)
Population (2004)
 - Total 21,714
postal code 70000
Area code(s) +052

Colonia del Sacramento (formerly the Portuguese Colónia do Sacramento) is a city in southwestern Uruguay, by the Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is the oldest town in Uruguay and capital of the departamento of Colonia. It has a population of 21,714 (2004 census).

It is renowned for its historic quarter, a World Heritage Site. Modern Colonia del Sacramento produces textiles and has a free trade zone, in addition to a polytechnic center and various government buildings.



Founded in 1680 by Portugal as Colónia do Sacramento, the colony was later disputed by the Spanish who settled on the opposite bank of the river at Buenos Aires. The colony was conquered by José de Garro in 1680, but returned to Portugal the next year. It was conquered again by the Spanish in March 1705 after a siege of five months, but given back in the Treaty of Utrecht. Another attack during the Spanish-Portuguese War, 1735-1737, failed.

It kept changing hands from crown to crown due to treaties such as the Treaty of Madrid in 1750 and the Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1777, until it remained with the Spanish. It then transferred to Portuguese control again, and later to the Brazilians after 1816, when the entire Banda Oriental (Uruguay) was seized by the Rio de Janeiro government and renamed the Cisplatina province.

Now part of the independent country of Uruguay, Colonia del Sacramento has expanded to the north and east, but the original Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) retains its irregular, terrain-fitting street plan built by the Portuguese, contrasting with the wider, orthogonal calles in the newer Spanish area.

Timeline of rule

The rule from 1680 to present (with flag of the period) is:

From To Rule Reason for Handover
1680 1680 Flag Portugal (1667).svg Portugal     conquered by José de Garro
1680 1681 Flag of New Spain.svg   Spain Provisional Treaty of Lisbon
1681 1705 Flag Portugal (1667).svg Portugal conquered in the War of Spanish Succession
1705 1713 Bandera de Costas 1700-1771.png   Spain Treaty of Utrecht
1714 1762 Flag Portugal (1707).svg Portugal First Cevallos expedition
1762 1763 Bandera de Costas 1700-1771.png   Spain Treaty of Paris (1763)
1763 1777 Flag Portugal (1707).svg Portugal Second Cevallos expedition
1777 1811 Bandera naval desde 1785.png   Spain Revolt led by José Gervasio Artigas   
1811 1817 Flag of Artigas.svg Liga Federal Portuguese invasion
1817 1822 Flag United Kingdom Portugal Brazil Algarves.svg Portugal Brazilian Declaration of Independence
1822 1828 Flag of the Second Empire of Brazil.svg Brazil Argentina-Brazil War
1828 present Flag of Uruguay.svg Uruguay

Points of interest

Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
State Party  Uruguay
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 747
Region** Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1995  (19th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) section of Colonia del Sacramento is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a popular tourist attraction for visitors from Buenos Aires, and there is frequent ferry service across the Río de la Plata between the two cities, with fast ferries completing the journey in just 50 minutes. The historical section of Colonia, which has some cobblestone streets built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, is within walking distance of the ferry terminal. Among the notable visitor attractions around the tree-lined Plaza Mayor (main square) are:

  • Portón de Campo – the City Gate and wooden drawbridge
  • Lighthouse and convent ruins of the 17th century Convent of San Francisco
  • Basilica del Sanctísimo Sacramento – the Basilica of the Holy Sacrament, built of stone by the Portuguese in 1808
  • Portuguese Museum – constructed in the 18th century, it exhibits Portuguese furnishings, jewellry, uniforms and old maps of Portuguese naval expeditions
  • Casa de Nacarello – an 18th century Portuguese house
  • Municipal Museum – rebuilt by the Spanish in 1835 as the Casa del Almirante Brown, it exhibits artifacts and documents of the city's different periods and cultures
  • Viceroy's House – the Casa del Virrey, reconstructed from the original ruins
  • Iglesia Matriz – the oldest church in Uruguay, dating from 1695-99
  • Plaza de toros Real de San Carlos, a Bullring included in an old tourist complex now abandoned.



Colonia del Sacramento is served by three ferry boat lines from Buenos Aires, Argentina: "Buquebus", "Seacat Colonia" and "Colonia Express".

Two principal highways terminate at Colonia: Highway #1 connects Colonia to Montevideo and points east; Highway #21 connects to points north, including the Aarón de Anchorena National Park, 30 kilometres (19 mi) distant, and Fray Bentos. There is also a local airport which can receive light aircraft. There is a project in planning to lengthen the runway and recommence flights to Buenos Aires (this was done in the past)and other cities within Uruguay.

Consular representation

Argentina maintains a consulate in Colonia del Sacramento.

See also

External links


Colonia may refer to:


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Colonia article)

From Wikitravel

Classic cars on the cobbles of Calle de Portugal.
Classic cars on the cobbles of Calle de Portugal.

Colonia del Sacramento is in Uruguay. It is filled with old colonial buildings and cobbled streets, and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Colonia del Sacramento (Nova Colonia do Santissimo Sacramento) was founded in 1680 by the Portuguese (Manuel Lobo), sandwiched in between the Portuguese colony of Brazil and the Spanish Vice Royalty of the River Plate (later Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil). Its strategic position and use as a smuggling port meant that its sovereignty was hotly contested and the city changed hands several times between Spain and Portugal.

Get in

Two daily boat connections arrive and depart from Buenos Aires and are the main connection to Argentina. A fast expensive one and a cheap slow one. The fast Buquebus [1] catamaran ferry (one hour) costs 60 USD return and is usually quite crowded with day tourists and travel groups. Make sure you book in advance for weekends and the peak season (Christmas until the end of February). The slower boat costs 102 Pesos (from Buenos Aires) round trip, and takes about 3 hours.

A cheaper possibility is to take a boat from Tigre to Carmelo in Uruguay. From Carmelo, take a bus, which run every two to three hours from the center of the city to Colonia. Great landscape and also drops off kids from school along the way.

There are several connections by bus from Montevideo to Colonia. Be careful with people telling you that all buses are booked out. This is in general not true and a taxi is much more expensive. For the peace of your mind buy a bus ticket upfront to avoid rare disappointment.

If you want to extend your stay in Argentina, then Colonia is a good place because upon arrival you are granted a new 90 day tourist visa for either country.

Get around

The old city of Colonia, which holds the main attractions, is quite small. It can be easily walked in a single day. There are shops where you can rent bicycles or scooters which you can use to ride around the city or in to the countryside. Streets aren't always in perfect condition, so keep an eye on the road, especially cobbled ones.

The ferry terminal is about half a kilometre south of the old city and the main bus terminal is about a kilometre south of the city center.

It is possible to rent row and sail boats from the marina.

The lighthouse.
The lighthouse.


The main attraction of Colonia is its historic center. Nine small museums in the center can be visited with only one entrance ticket. For a few pesos you can go up to the top of the lighthouse (faro) and see most of the city and look out over the city and the river.

Outside of the city there is a semi-abandoned amusement park with Uruguay's only bullfighting ring, no longer in use.

  • Climb up the old light house (entrance fee is two for one regular price)
  • Walk the old city center and eat fresh ice cream
  • Look for souvenirs and eat asado
View from the lighthouse
View from the lighthouse


The old city is full of restaurants which serve the weekend tourist crowd from Buenos Aires. The specialties are Italian and asado (barbeque).

Colonia was also settled by Swiss immigrants and is home to a unique local Swiss cheese that you can get at the markets.


Yerba mate, the local drink of choice. Every single person here carries around their own cup and bombilla, so when in Rome...

  • Lentas Maravillas, Santa Rita 61. Barrio Histórico, 05220636 (). 10:30-20:00. Amazing cafe and lounge with garden overlooking the Rio de la Plata. Brunch is especially good with Illy coffee. Stop by for 5 o'clock tea to enjoy tartlets, muffins, cookies, and other culinary delights or sip mojitos in the garden while reading a wide selection of books from the lounge.  edit
  • Hostel Colonial, Av. General Flores 440, 052-28151 ( Nice basic hostel, with Internet and shared kitchen. Dorms from USD 10.
  • Hotel La Misión, M. del Tapes 171. 05226767 (+598 5226767). Small, cute hotel. Great location in historic district. The original building dates from 1762.
  • El Viajero Hostel, Washington Barbot 164, Phone +59852 22683, Email:, [2]. Dorms from USD 12 (USD 11 YHA members). Well-run, clean, friendly hostel just a few metres from the historic old city.

Stay safe

Colonia is a preserved tourist town with very little of the harassment seen in most cities in Latin America. The dominance of local weekenders from Buenos Aires and Montevideo creates a very different environment from other tourist cities.

Get out

There are frequent buses to Montevideo and several time a day ferries to Buenos Aires and El Tigre in Argentina.

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