Thursday 11 January 2018, 18:32

Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento has a lot to offer: a historic quarter that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, a unique coastline on the River Plate and superb cuisine.

The city is one of Uruguay’s leading tourist destinations, thanks to its many attractions and its location, just two hours from Montevideo and one from Buenos Aires. Every year it welcomes around two million visitors.

With its cobbled streets, its historic district offers culture and a trip back in time. Museums, theatre, arts and crafts all form part of an unforgettable journey to days gone by, one that can be made on foot or by bike.

Another of the city’s attractions is its cuisine, not least the local area’s cheeses and jams. Colonia boasts a wide range of excellent amenities and services for visitors, who have the option of staying at five-star hotels, inns and colonial houses filled with history.

Founded in 1680 by the Portuguese Manuel Lobo, the city alternated between Portuguese and Spanish rule until it gained independence along with the rest of the country in 1825. Its past is reflected in its architecture, which combines both colonial styles.

Aside from the historic quarter, visitors can also take a walk along the extensive rambla, which, after four kilometres, leads to the Real de San Carlos bullring. Bullfighting is now banned, with the venue being used to house cultural and artistic events.

Nearby lies another of the area’s many tourist attractions; the church of San Benito, with its image of a black saint.

The spectacular sunsets over the River Plate are another reason to visit the city, and can be seen from anywhere on the rambla and from the lighthouse and the old quay.

Places to visit Calle de los Suspiros A small cobbled thoroughfare that is full of history, the Street of Sighs is the best-known in the city. Built in colonial times, it lies in the heart of the old town and is lined with old buildings of great historical interest.

The lighthouse Served by a narrow spiral staircase, the top of the lighthouse – which opened in 1857 – affords one of the finest views of the city of Colonia. It is the perfect spot from which to admire the magnificent sunsets for which the area is known.

Museo del Azulejo Built by the Portuguese in the first half of the 18th century, the Tile Museum figures among the city’s biggest attractions, and houses a fine collection of Spanish and French tiles used in rioplatense architecture since the 19th century. The building is an attraction in itself, retaining as it does its original walls, a beam and part of the floor.

Football in Colonia The city has a thriving local and regional league scene, though its pride and joy when it comes to football is Club Plaza Colonia, the only team from the Uruguayan interior to play in the national first division in the 2017 season.

The club only joined the professional league structure in 2000 and enjoyed its fair share of ups and downs before winning the 2015/16 Torneo Clausura, a notable achievement that earned it the nickname “The Uruguayan Leicester City”.

Colonia also takes pride from the fact that it is the birthplace of the late Alberto Suppici, who coached Uruguay to FIFA World Cup glory in 1930.