Montevideo Sights

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Plaza Independencia

Plaza Independencia Review

Portions of Independence Square were once occupied by the ciudadela, a fort built originally by the Spanish but deemed militarily useless and destroyed in 1833. All that remains of the original walls is the Puerta de la Ciudadela, the triumphal gate to the Old City. In the center stands a 30-ton statue of General José Gervasio Artigas, the father of Uruguay and the founder of its 19th-century independence movement. At the base of the monument, two flights of polished granite stairs lead to an underground mausoleum that holds Artigas's remains. The mausoleum is a moving memorial: bold graphics chiseled in the walls of this giant space detail the feats of Artigas's life. Two uniformed guards dressed in period uniforms stand at solemn attention beside the urn in this uncanny, rarely visited vault. There's a changing of the guard Friday at 12:30, and a parade at the mausoleum on Saturday at 11:30 am.

Looming over the north side of the plaza, the 26-story Palacio Salvo was the tallest building in South America when it was erected in 1927 (it's still the second-tallest building in Uruguay). Today this gorgeous Art Deco edifice is simply an office building. A speaker on the Avenida 18 de Julio side of the building plays the strains of La Cumparsita, a famous tango, each day at noon and 6 pm.

Updated: 06-22-2011

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