In part 1 of this post I described how we sailed into Montevideo, Uruguay on a hot and sunny day, and the shore tour I took that morning around the city by coach and by steam train. Having been impressed with the parts of the city I saw on tour, after lunch and both cooling down & rehydrating on board, I decided to go ashore again to explore parts of the city centre on foot.
My first stop was an area very close to the ship which our guide had pointed out as we passed in the morning, which contained some relics from the Admiral Graf Spee. This German pocket battleship sought refuge in Montevideo for repairs following damage inflicted by three British cruisers at the Battle of the River Plate. False radio reports of approaching superior British naval forces convinced the commander of the Admiral Graf Spee to take his ship out to sea and scuttle it. The ship’s anchor and rangefinder, salvaged from the wreck are on display:
I then continued to walk up through the city centre, heading towards the Catedral Metropolitana – the Metropolitan Cathedral. Despite the heat, I needed to keep up a brisk pace as I had very limited time before I had to be back on board ship. On the way I noticed some impressive architecture above some of the shops, and a striking statue in one of the squares:
As is often the case, the Cathedral was much more impressive on the inside than on the outside:
The other area I was keen to see and photograph was the Plaza Independencia – Independence Square – which we had driven around on the coach during the shore tour earlier in the day. I had noticed several buildings I wanted to photograph, and I had also remembered from one of the excellent port talks on board ship before we arrived about the Artigas Mausoleum located under the statue to José Artigas in the centre of the square.
Entering the Square, immediately in front of me was the Puerta de la Ciudadela, the gate to the original citadel of Montevideo (the remainder was torn down in 1829):
The next building to catch my eye was the plush offices of my former employer:
I then took photographs of some of the other buildings around the Square, a fountain and the huge statue to José Artigas in the centre of the Square:
José Artigas (1764 – 1850) is a national hero of Uruguay, sometimes called “The father of Uruguayan nationhood”. His remains are in a mausoleum underneath his statue, which are guarded 24 hours a day by a traditional guard called the Blandegues de Artigas. The soldiers stood perfectly motionless, and I had to look very carefully to confirm they were real! I was very impressed how they could stand like that for so long at a time, and they contributed greatly to making my visit to the mausoleum quite moving:
Leaving the Mausoleum and the Square, I returned to the port area and my waiting ship by a slightly different route, passing this theatre and this street art on the way:
Not long after my return to the ship it was time to go up on deck to watch the sailaway, with the city now lit by the low setting sun. It was interesting to compare the view of the port cranes in this light to the one I took early in the morning as we sailed in:
I remained on deck to watch the sun set as we sailed onwards to a new country and new adventures, which will feature in my next few posts:
Despite the steamy hot weather, I was most impressed on my first visit to Uruguay – complete with its steam train, and looked forward to returning to the country on the return leg of the voyage.