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When discussing cities in South America, it’s difficult not to also include Montevideo. Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, and its largest city with a population of 1.3 million – making its residents more than a third of the entire country. Although the area is quite small – only 20 kilometers from east to west – it is filled with shopping malls, art deco architecture, unique tango bars, and more. Take a walk around this thriving metropolis and see the transformation of old to new. It’s a cultural smorgasbord. Tourism accounts for much of Montevideo’s economy, so there is a lot to do and see while you visit. Here are just a few suggestions:
Mercado de la Abundancia
Tango music is the center of attention in this historic market on the upper floor. From 10 PM on Saturday nights, you can dance the night away or, if you so choose, take a seat at one of the adjacent restaurants and watch from the sidelines. Regular tango shows are sponsored at 8 o’clock on Sundays by the leading tango organization in Montevideo which goes by the name Joventango. They are also based in the market. At 9:30 PM and beyond, the floor is open for all wish to tango.
Artsy lampshades hang over a countertop while the baker juggles fresh-baked bread, the chef whips up scrumptious meals, and the bartenders mix exotic drinks. This little eatery on the corner of the street is laid out with a spreading sycamore tree shading the sidewalk café and its colorful folding chairs. The prices are reasonable and the burgers are of either the vegetarian or carnivorous brand. Mixed drinks and artisan beers keep everyone happy, even during the ever popular Sunday brunch.
This premier performance space has been completely renovated since it first opened in 1856. Located just off Plaza Independencia it is the perfect venue for live performance with its superb acoustics. Spanish and English tours are regularly scheduled and on Wednesdays are free. Don’t wait for a concert to take in one of the most memorable sights in town.
Museo del Gaucho
If there was no live performance at Teatro Solís, so you feel like you missed out on your culture fix, worry not because this museum will fill you in on everything you need to know about the land, it’s local animals, the gauchos, etc. and how they all relate, eloquently housed in the ornate Palacio Heber. Artifacts of a historical nature include metal drinking straws called bombillas, mate, silver works and horse gear.
Mercado del Puerto
Particularly on weekend afternoons, people come here to hang out with street musicians, craftspeople, see what the latest creations by the city’s artists are, and generally participate in one of the liveliest places in Montevideo’s old port. The market building offers incredible steak restaurants and impressive wrought iron sculptures.
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