Ohana Sailing Adventure

Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, is on the northeast bank of the Río de la Plata, only 50km east of Buenos Aires. So close, in fact, that you can see the lights of Buenos Aires from Colonia at night.

Located at the tip of a short peninsula jutting into the river, Colonia is surrounded on three sides by water and was founded by the Portuguese in 1680. At the time, the Portuguese and Spanish were battling for colonies and over smuggled trade items, and  ownership was disputed for a century before the Spanish ultimately took control.

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Museo Portugués sitting inside an old home

Because of changing hands between those two nations for a hundred years, followed by the emigration of artisans to Colonia in the second half of the 19th century, the city has a unique mixture of Portuguese, Spanish, and post-colonial styles.

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This blend of influences can be seen even in the cobblestoned streets. The streets laid by the Portuguese have larger stones, haphazardly placed. The cobblestones laid by the Spanish are more uniform in size and neatly arranged. But the two are often found abutting one another throughout the Barrio Historio, or historic quarter.

Unlike typical Spanish cities, though, that are laid out in straight, “checkerboard” grids, Colonia was allowed to develop based on its geographical features. Wandering through the streets, you move from large square and boulevards to narrow cobblestone lanes, poking your head through gates into recessed courtyards. Exploring Colonia reminded me of wandering through the neighborhoods of Paris, discovering the older hidden gems away from the large avenues.

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