Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

The Legacy of an Historic Shuttle

El Almacen
A traditional Cologne shop displays small cooperage products on its doorstep
precious shadow
Client enjoys the peace of the city in one of its many creative terraces.
classic in red
Calhambeque parked outside a traditional house in Colonia del Sacramento.
Parisian lantern
An old lantern dyes a corner near the lighthouse in Colonia del Sacramento yellow.
Mate Ritual
Boyfriends share the cologne sun and mate tea, an unavoidable Uruguayan habit.
top of the lighthouse
Couple talk at the top of the lighthouse in Colonia del Sacramento.
Yellow Lamp
Bright yellow lantern in a historic corner of Colonia del Sacramento.
An old pastry shop leaning against a much older façade of the square, once Portuguese, sometimes Spanish, now Uruguayan
Silver Fishing
Fishermen create a silhouette with the sun west of the Rio de la Plata.
Visitors walk along the bridge that leads to the main entrance to the walled city.
street to Rio
A typical street, based on an irregular sidewalk made of large stones and equipped with yellow lamps.
Anil street, scarlet jalopy
Colonial city visitors examine an indigo-hued street featuring an old classic-era car
Classics Duel
Vintage cars add color to a street in Colonia del Sacramento.
The founding of Colónia do Sacramento by the Portuguese generated recurrent conflicts with their spanish rivals. Until 1828, this fortified square, now sedative, changed sides again and again.

As the afternoon draws to a close, it becomes more obvious why the vast expanse of water we contemplate was long ago named the Rio da Prata.

Sitting on one of the low walls of the great fortification, we can enjoy the phenomenon taking over the estuary and the soul of the Uruguayans who populate its banks.

The sky has been clean for days. It displays the same blue that inspired the Uruguayan flag and that of the neighboring Argentine nation, a few kilometers across the basin.

Groups of friends occupy rocky ledges and live with fishing rods at the ready. Others ventured into the immensity of brackish water.

We see a small boat with three fishermen on board. They anchor the vessel in the broad beam of sunlight. At that precise moment, their figures block the reflection of the surface and produce a curious mobile silhouette.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Fishermen create a silhouette with the sun west of the Rio de la Plata.

Colonia do Sacramento and its twenty-five thousand inhabitants remain sedated by the secluded and hedonistic life of the city, we dare to think that it is a kind of compensation for the town's military past.

The Foundation in an All-Disputed Territory

The New Colony of the Blessed Sacrament – ​​its original name – was the first European colony in present-day Uruguayan territory. The XNUMXth century came to an end. Merchants in Rio de Janeiro were more eager than ever to do business with rival colonies in the province of Rio del Plata, especially Buenos Aires.

Determined to support his efforts, Field Master Manuel de Lobo organized an expedition and sailed to the Rio da Prata. In January 1680, he initiated the Portuguese presence in this region, which Coroa Lusa considered to be located east of the line formed by the Treaty of Tordesilhas, a treaty that had long been involved in an irresolvable controversy.

Aware of the presence of rivals, the Spaniards mobilized troops from Peru, from present-day Argentina, from Paraguay. At Jesuit Missions of the Uruguay River, alone, sent around three thousand indigenous people, on foot and on horseback.

In the opposite camp, Manuel Lobo also called for reinforcements. The vessels that transported them sank at the entrance to the Rio da Prata. The imbalance of forces became obvious.

Seven months after its establishment, Colonia do Sacramento was captured. The Spanish changed its name to Fuerte del Rosario. Manuel Lobo was taken prisoner in Buenos Aires, where he died three years later. Then began a long alternation of ownership that gave the square its peculiar military architecture.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Visitors walk along the bridge that leads to the main entrance to the walled city.

A Fortress That Now Encloses An Entire City

As soon as we pass the moat, on a huge wooden bridge, Colónia do Sacramento proves to be a place originally made with little or no concern for comfort.

Street after street, alley after alley, we retain the feeling of the imminence of a twisted foot, so irregular are the stones that form its black sidewalk, between reinforced walls and imposing bastions.

Centuries passed. Despite alternating, the presence of political, military and religious leaders from the contending nations became longer and justified buildings with other precautions.

In recent times, Uruguay has put this heritage to good use. Raised for fortification the status of UNESCO World Heritage.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

A typical street, based on an irregular sidewalk made of large stones and equipped with yellow lamps.

When we walk through the geometrical layout, surrounded by sycamore trees, we find that many of the buildings have been converted into museums, restaurants, bars and shops. They have colorful and elegant decorations in common. At night, they are illuminated by Parisian-style lamps like those that still equip Lisbon's historic areas.

The urban identity of Colónia do Sacramento was maintained.

And the court in the capital wasted no time in claiming ownership of his latest colony. A year after the Spanish conquest, Colónia do Sacramento received the signing of the provisional treaty that established its return to Portugal.

The Commercial Mastery of Residents, With Possible Historical Foundations

It also made official the condemnation of the Spanish attack and the sanction of the governor and captain general of the province of Rio da Prata, José de Garro. In 1701, Portugal and Spain signed, still in Lisbon, the treaty that established the first of several definitive but ephemeral transfers to Portugal.

we leave the warehouses, bodegas and pulperies marveling at its beauty and originality. We conjectured that the colonial people's appetite for business could be rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit of their predecessors. History seems to support the theory.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

A traditional Cologne shop displays small cooperage products on its doorstep

The Luso-Hispanic agreement forbade the square's trade with the surrounding Spanish colonies. But, in the middle of the XNUMXth century, Colónia do Sacramento had already been converted into a Portuguese and British contraband entrepot, betting on profiting from the supply of Hispanic towns.

The damage to the Spanish Crown proved to be such that Felipe V commissioned the governor of Buenos Aires to build a fortification in Montevideo, with the ultimate aim of controlling illegal trade.

The Colony of Sacramento that Forced the Construction of Montevideo

This fortification originated the capital of Uruguay. And Montevideo is the starting point for most of Cologne's national visitors, usually in escapes for rest and leisure.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Vintage cars add color to a street in Colonia del Sacramento.

We left a street embellished by two gaudy clunkers. A few dozen meters further on, we passed a couple of lovers. They are installed almost acrobatically on a narrow wall.

And share a bulb of mate tea, taking care of the inevitable supplement of hot water in a complementary term.

We got into conversation. We were quick to confirm their notorious well-being: “because they know how it is” we are told with a strong conversion of the ipsilons and double “they” into “jotas”, conventional in the Castilian accent of the area: “a Uruguayan without mate is not a real Uruguayan. Here in Cologne they take it very seriously. Amazing place, isn't it? We love coming here. Are they Portuguese? Ah, very well, thank you so much for remembering to come here and found this!”

Mate, Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Boyfriends share the cologne sun and mate tea, an unavoidable Uruguayan habit.

The dialogue goes on. As is to be expected, it also comes to the theme of the permanent coming and going of the fortress between Portugal and Spain. An oscillation that continued into the XNUMXth century.

The Paris Treaty and Detracted with and the Genesis of the Uruguayan Nation

In 1750, the Treaty of Madrid stipulated that the colony should return to the Hispanic yoke, against the ceding of the “Seven pueblos de las Missions”, in the current Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. With the entry of Spain into the Seven Years' War, talks were interrupted.

Spain occupied Colonia del Sacramento. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris which came to establish a new return to Portugal.

In 1777, Charles III decided to reverse the Treaty of Paris. He sent a new expedition to Rio de la Plata and reconquered Colonia.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

An old lantern dyes a corner near the lighthouse in Colonia del Sacramento yellow.

Thirty years later, the British took the place from the Spaniards. As if that wasn't enough, they helped to foment the first independence notions that inspired the liberation movement in the Eastern Province.

In 1818, following the Portuguese-Brazilian invasion, 40 years after having lost it for the last time, Portugal reoccupied Colónia do Sacramento.

To finally put an end to the endless sequel, in 1828, the fortress became part of the Oriental State of Uruguay, the embryonic state of today's Uruguay.

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(I) Eminent Annapurnas

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