Colonia del Sacramento is the capital of the Department of Colonia and is located on the border of the La Plata River and the Uruguay River. Colonia, as this city is also called for short, is the only Uruguayan city of Portuguese origin on the banks of the La Plata River, the closest to Buenos Aires. From Portuguese, the name of the settlement can be translated as “city of mystery.” The modern version sounds in Spanish “Colonia del Sacramento”.
The historical center of the city was founded in 1680 as a military fortress, and in 1995 it was recognized by UNESCO as the Historical Heritage of Humanity – this is a real pearl of the colonial era. The population of the city is only 10 thousand people. The road from Montevideo to Colonia del Sacramento takes approximately 2.5 hours. It is very interesting to observe the mixture of Portuguese and Spanish architectural styles here. This beautiful city has retained the charm of antiquity, as evidenced by the colonial buildings, drawbridges, narrow cobbled streets leading to the river, where the old lighthouses and squares of the city center still operate.
Here, in the historic center, a large number of charming restaurants are located along the cobbled streets leading to Plaza Mayor (Main Square), the harbor and promenade, Plaza de Toros (Bullfighting Square), San Juan de Anchorena’s presidential ranch. Between the museums and the ruins of the old walls that used to surround the whole city, there is the “Street of Sighs”. It is a narrow, quaint alley, cobbled with stone, surrounded by colorful buildings that seem to come out of a fairy tale. In a thousand different versions, artists have turned the Street of Sighs into one of the most famous streets in Uruguay.
Nowadays, Colonia del Sacramento is a quiet tourist town, on the beaches of which Argentines from Buenos Aires like to spend their weekends. In addition to the tourism industry, the city lives off the work of the port, leather, textile and meat processing enterprises.
With a special ticket purchased in the old part of the city, you can visit seven small museums of Colonia del Sacramento, including the Portuguese House (architecture, military uniform furniture) and the Municipal Museum with exhibits from different eras. Near the city you can see the El Faro lighthouse and the ruins of the convent of San Francisco. The Historico Historic Quarter is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Many buildings of the colonial period of the 17th-18th centuries have been preserved here. Beauty and tranquility reigns around, it is thanks to them that the spirit of romanticism soars in the air of the city.
You can travel around the city by buses and taxis. With other cities, Colonia del Sacramento is connected by highways. Between Buenos Aires there is a regular ferry service on the river (at least three times a day).
Colonia del Sacramento has comfortable weather all year round. However, it is easier to visit local resorts in autumn and winter (from September to February), when the main flow of tourists subsides. The average summer temperature (January) is +27 C, the average winter temperature (June) is +7 C. The average annual temperature is +23 C.
A small international airport (Aeropuerto Internacional de Colonia Laguna de los Patos) is located 6 km from the center.