Colonia del Sacramento

Founded in 1680, the city of Colonia de Sacramento is located in southwestern Uruguay, by the Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is capital of the Colonia Department. The community has a permanent population of around 27,000.

Colonia (as it is called by the locals) is renowned for its historic quarter, a World Heritage Site.

The city was founded by Portugal, but was later disputed by the Spanish who settled on the opposite bank of the river at Buenos Aires. The site was thus conquered by the Spanish and given back to the Portuguese several times. It kept changing hands from crown to crown, until it finally remained with the Spanish.

Today, its modest buildings, in regard both to their dimensions and their appearance, are a particularly interesting testimony to the singular fusion of the Portuguese and Spanish traditions that is evident in the construction methods used. The civil and religious buildings with long stone walls, wooden trellis and tiled roofs reveal an excellent knowledge of traditional construction systems and contribute to the architectural unity specific to the Historic Quarter.

The urban plan coincides almost exactly with that of the Lusitanian "Nova Colonia do Sacramento", notably with the period of greatest splendour corresponding to the first half of the 18th century.

The site of Colonia retains the elements necessary for the expression of its Outstanding Universal Value, in accordance with the attributes underpinning this value. Thus, despite the passage of time, the ancient Colonia del Sacramento has maintained its original structure and urban scale, as concerns both its buildings and urban spaces.

Municipal Museum (Almirante Brown's House) is a building from 1795, rebuilt by the Spanish in 1835. It is the first museum established in the city. It exhibits objects, artefacts and documents of different periods, social groups, and cultures of Colonia de Sacramento.

streets of Colonia

The original historic quarter of Colonia retains its irregular, terrain-fitting street plan built by the Portuguese, contrasting with the wider, orthogonal streets in the newer Spanish area. Photo: ©

rues casco viejo

The special nature of Colonia del Sacramento is also based on its urban landscape, a mixture of large arteries and large squares, with narrow cobbled streets and more private spaces. Photo: ©

gate entrance colonia

City Gate (Porton de Campo). The gate was rebuilt between 1968 and 1971 by the ruins of the old wall and wooden drawbridge. Bronze nails on the wall mark the level left of the original wall, it has been partially rebuilt. Photo: ©

The scale of the Historic Quarter is marked by the predominance of single-storey houses, those of two stories being rare. Photo: ©

From the bay, only the outlines of the lighthouse and church towers stand out. Photo: ©

colonia rio de la plata

Surrounded by water, the relationship of the city to the Rio de la Plata river is one of the natural aspects that additionally characterizes it. Photo: ©

bandera pavillion

Bastion de la Bandera. Photo : ©

solis street

Solis Street. Photo : ©

suspiros rue

Suspiros Street. A Portuguese street, with the original pavement, and a drain running by the middle of it. The street has houses on each side belonging to the first colonial period. Photo : ©

portugais museum

Portuguese Museum. Typical Portuguese construction of the XVIII century, with remarkable Stone walls of 60 to 90 cm width, and original partition walls and tiles floors. It exhibits Portuguese furniture replicas and uniforms. Photo : ©

Photo : ©

holy sacrement basilique

Basilica of the Holy Sacrament maintains its original design, one nave, Portuguese  stone walls and brick (architect Tomas Toribio, 1808). Photo : ©

church sacramento colonia

The façade and tiles copulas of the church and its bell towers were recuperated in 1957 and in 1995 buy the team of the architect M.A. Odriozola. Photo : ©

square 25 may colonia

Main Square Plaza Mayor del 25 de Mayo. This place was created during the foundation of the city, being the largest open space of the area. It was originally used for military maneuvers. Later interventions incorporate gardens and paths that create a pleasant environment but modify the original perception of the square. Photo : ©

wharf colonia sacramento

1866 Wharf. The warf was initially longer and with a perpendicular section in the extreme over the river of La Plata. Because of ewather and aging conditions it lost part of the original structure, being recovered in 2001 to receive sport vessels. Photo : ©

yachting club colonia des sacramento uruguay

Club Yachting y Pesca (Yachting and Fishing Club of Colonia). Photo : ©

general flores street

General Flores Street. Photo : ©

miguel angel odriozola street

Miguel Angel Odriozola street. Photo : ©

carte riviere de la plata

Historical map of La Plata River on Lavaleja street. Photo : ©

Argentinian Consulate

The Argentinian Consulate in Colonia del Sacramento. Photo : ©

colonia's free zone

Colonia's Free zone. Photo : ©

lighthouse Colonia

Ruins of the St. Francis Convent and Lighthouse. The convent was built in 1694 and destroyed by a fire in 1704. Soldiers of Juan Manuel de Rosas started the construction of the Lighthouse in 1845. The work was interrupted by the war but finally finished in 1857. Photo : ©


Nacarello’s House. Portuguese construction of the XVIII century, belonging to the third foundation of the city of Colonia (1790), recovered in 1993. The house exhibits original Portuguese furniture and elements of the time. Photo : ©

house vice king colonia

Viceroy's House. Ruins recovered with original elements, the openings confirm the magnificence of a Portuguese house. Photo : ©