| 1.338 million (2009)|
| Plaza Independencia, Pocitos, Palacio Salvo, Solís Theatre, Palacio Taranco|
University of the Republic (Montevideo), Universidad de Montevideo (Montevideo), ORT Uruguay (Montevideo), Universidad Católica del Uruguay Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga (Montevideo), Stella Maris College (Montevideo)
Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay. According to the 2011 census, the city proper has a population of 1,319,108 (about one-third of the countrys total population) in an area of 194.0 square kilometres (74.9 sq mi). The southernmost capital city in the Americas, Montevideo is situated in the southern coast of the country, on the northeastern bank of the Río de la Plata.
The city was established in 1724 by a Spanish soldier, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, as a strategic move amidst the Spanish-Portuguese dispute over the platine region; and it was also under brief British rule in 1807. Montevideo hosted all the matches during the first FIFA World Cup. Montevideo is the seat of the administrative headquarters of Mercosur and ALADI, Latin America’s leading trade blocs, position that entailed comparisons to the role of Brussels in Europe.
Montevideo has consistently been rated as having the highest quality of life of any city in Latin America: by 2015 has held this rank every year during the last decade. As of 2010, Montevideo was the 19th largest city economy in the continent and 9th highest income earner among major cities. In 2015, it has a GDP of $ 40.5 billion, and a per capita of $24,400.
It is classified as a Beta World City, ranking seventh in Latin America and 73rd in the world. Described as a "vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life", and "a thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture", Montevideo ranks 8th in Latin America on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. By 2014, is also regarded as the fifth most gay-friendly major city in the world, first in Latin America. It is the hub of commerce and higher education in Uruguay as well as its chief port. The city is also the financial and cultural hub of a larger metropolitan area, with a population of around 2 million.
Between 1680 and 1683, Portugal founded the city of Colonia do Sacramento in the region across the bay from Buenos Aires. This city met with no resistance from the Spanish until 1723, when they began to place fortifications on the elevations around Montevideo Bay. On 22 November 1723, Field Marshal Manuel de Freitas da Fonseca of Portugal built the Montevieu fort.
A Spanish expedition was sent from Buenos Aires, organized by the Spanish governor of that city, Bruno Mauricio de Zabala. On 22 January 1724, the Spanish forced the Portuguese to abandon the location and started populating the city, initially with six families moving in from Buenos Aires and soon thereafter by families arriving from the Canary Islands who were called by the locals "guanches", "guanchos" or "canarios". There was also one significant early Italian resident by the name of Jorge Burgues.
A census of the citys inhabitants was performed in 1724 and then a plan was drawn delineating the city and designating it as San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo, later shortened to Montevideo. The census counted fifty families of Galician and Canary Islands origin, more than 1000 indigenous, mostly Guaraní and a number of Africans of Bantú origin as slaves.
A few years after its foundation, Montevideo became the main city of the region north of the Río de la Plata and east of the Uruguay River, competing with Buenos Aires for dominance in maritime commerce. The importance of Montevideo as the main port of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata brought it in confrontations with the city of Buenos Aires in various occasions, including several times when it was taken over to be used as a base to defend the eastern province of the Viceroyalty from Portuguese incursions.
In 1776, Spain made Montevideo its main naval base (Real Apostadero de Marina) for the South Atlantic, with authority over the Argentine coast, Fernando Po, and the Falklands.
Until the end of the 18th century, Montevideo remained a fortified area, today known as Ciudad Vieja.
Montevideo is situated on the north shore of the Río de la Plata, the arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the south coast of Uruguay from the north coast of Argentina; Buenos Aires lies 230 kilometres (140 mi) west on the Argentine side. The Santa Lucía River forms a natural border between Montevideo and San José Department to its west. To the citys north and east is Canelones Department, with the stream of Carrasco forming the eastern natural border. The coastline forming the citys southern border is interspersed with rocky protrusions and sandy beaches. The Bay of Montevideo forms a natural harbour, the nations largest and one of the largest in the Southern Cone, and the finest natural port in the region, functioning as a crucial component of the Uruguayan economy and foreign trade. Various streams criss-cross the town and empty into the Bay of Montevideo. The coastline and rivers are heavily polluted and of high salinity.
The city has an average elevation of 43 metres (141 ft). Its highest elevations are two hills: the Cerro de Montevideo and the Cerro de la Victoria, with the highest point, the peak of Cerro de Montevideo, crowned by a fortress, the Fortaleza del Cerro at a height of 134 metres (440 ft). Closest cities by road are Las Piedras to the north and the so-called Ciudad de la Costa (a conglomeration of coastal towns) to the east, both in the range of 20 to 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the city center. The approximate distances to the neighbouring department capitals by road are, 90 kilometres (56 mi) to San Jose de Mayo (San Jose Department) and 46 kilometres (29 mi) to Canelones (Canelones Department).
As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is the economic and political centre of the country. Most of the largest and wealthiest businesses in Uruguay have their headquarters in the city. Since the 1990s the city has undergone rapid economic development and modernization, including two of Uruguays most important buildings—the World Trade Center Montevideo (1998), and Telecommunications Tower (2000), the headquarters of Uruguays government-owned telecommunications company ANTEL, increasing the citys integration into the global marketplace.
Montevideo has a very rich architectural heritage and an impressive number of writers, artists, and musicians. Uruguayan tango is a unique form of dance that originated in the neighbourhoods of Montevideo towards the end of the 1800s. Tango, candombe and murga are the three main styles of music in this city. The city is also the centre of the cinema of Uruguay, which includes commercial, documentary and experimental films. There are two movie theatre companies running seven cinemas, around ten independent ones and four art film cinemas in the city. The theatre of Uruguay is admired inside and outside Uruguayan borders. The Solís Theatre is the most prominent theatre in Uruguay and the oldest in South America. There are several notable theatrical companies and thousands of professional actors and amateurs. Montevideo playwrights produce dozens of works each year; of major note are Mauricio Rosencof, Ana Magnabosco and Ricardo Prieto.
In recent years Montevideo nightlife has moved to Ciudad Vieja, where a large concentration of buildings cater for the recreational interests of young people during the night time. Under a presidential decree of 1 March 2006 smoking is prohibited in any public place with roofing, and there is a prohibition on the sale of alcohol in certain businesses from 21.00 to 9.00.
A Cultural Centre of Spain, as well as Asturian and cultural centres, testify to Montevideos considerable Spanish heritage. Montevideo also has important museums including Museo Torres García, Museo José Gurvich, Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales and Museo Juan Manuel Blanes etc., as mentioned above.
The Montevideo Cabildo was the seat of government during the colonial times of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. It is located in front of Constitution Square, in Ciudad Vieja. Built between 1804 and 1869 in Neoclassical style, with a series of Doric and Ionic columns, it became a National Heritage Site in 1975. In 1958, the Municipal Historic Museum and Archive was inaugurated here. It features three permanent city museum exhibitions, as well as temporary art exhibitions, cultural events, seminars, symposiums and forums.
The Palacio Taranco is located in front of the Plaza Zabala, in the heart of Ciudad Vieja. It was erected in the early 20th century as the residence of the Ortiz Taranco brothers on the ruins of Montevideos first theatre (of 1793), during a period in which the architectural style was influenced by French architecture. The palace was designed by French architects Charles Louis Girault and Jules Chifflot León who also designed the Petit Palais and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It passed to the city from the heirs of the Tarancos in 1943, along with its precious collection of Uruguayan furniture and draperies and was deemed by the city as an ideal place for a museum; in 1972 it became the Museum of Decorative Arts of Montevideo and in 1975 it became a National Heritage Site. The Decorative Arts Museum has an important collection of European paintings and decorative arts, ancient Greek and Roman art and Islamic ceramics of the 10th–18th century from the area of present-day Iran. The palace is often used as a meeting place by the Uruguayan government.
The National History Museum of Montevideo is located in the historical residence of General Fructuoso Rivera. It exhibits artifacts related to the history of Uruguay. In a process begun in 1998, the National Museum of Natural History (1837) and the National Museum of Anthropology (1981), merged in 2001, becoming the National Museum of Natural History and Anthropology. In July 2009, the two institutions again became independent. The Historical Museum has annexed eight historical houses in the city, five of which are located in the Ciudad Vieja. One of them, on the same block with the main building, is the historic residence of Antonio Montero, which houses the Museo Romantico.
The Museo Torres García is located in the Old Town, and exhibits Joaquín Torres Garcías unusual portraits of historical icons and cubist paintings akin to those of Picasso and Braque. The museum was established by Manolita Piña Torres, the widow of Torres Garcia, after his death in 1949. She also set up the García Torres Foundation, a private non-profit organization that organizes the paintings, drawings, original writings, archives, objects and furniture designed by the painter as well as the photographs, magazines and publications related to him.
There are several other important art museums in Montevideo. The National Museum of Visual Arts in Parque Rodó has Uruguays largest collection of paintings. The Juan Manuel Blanes Museum was founded in 1930, the 100th anniversary of the first Constitution of Uruguay, significant with regard to the fact that Juan Manuel Blanes painted Uruguayan patriotic themes. In back of the museum is a beautiful Japanese Garden with a pond where there are over a hundred carp. The Museo de Historia del Arte, located in the Palacio Municipal, features replicas of ancient monuments and exhibits a varied collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome and Native American cultures including local finds of the pre-Columbian period. The Museo Municipal Precolombino y Colonial, in the Ciudad Vieja, has preserved collections of the archaeological finds from excavations carried out by Uruguayan archaeologist Antonio Taddei. These antiquaries are exhibits of pre-Columbian art of Latin America, painting and sculpture from the 17th and 18th century mostly from Mexico, Peru and Brazil. The Museo de Arte Contempo has small but impressive exhibits of modern Uruguayan painting and sculpture.
There are also other types of museums in the city. The Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda, located in the Centro, has distinctive displays of the historical culture of Uruguays gauchos, their horse gear, silver work and mate (tea), gourds, and bombillas (drinking straws) in odd designs. The Museo Naval, is located on the eastern waterfront in Buceo and offers exhibits depicting the maritime history of Uruguay. The Museo del Automóvil, belonging to the Automobile Club of Uruguay, has a rich collection of vintage cars which includes a 1910 Hupmobile. The Museo y Parque Fernando García in Carrasco, a transport and automobile museum, includes old horse carriages and some early automobiles. The Castillo Pittamiglio, with an unusual façade, highlights the eccentric legacy of Humberto Pittamiglio, local alchemist and architect.
Cuisine of Montevideo refers to the food cooked and served in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay. The cuisine served in the city is similar to that consumed in the country as a whole with beef being a staple of the diet and found in a range of foods and torta frita, a pan-fried cake. However, given the influx of immigrants and tourists into the capital over the decades and centuries, a range of cultural culinary influences can be found in the city.
In recent years the number of restaurants and diversity of cuisine has increased considerably, Lonely Planet describes the Montevideo culinary scene as "just starting to get exciting" with the variety of restaurants springing up in the city from traditional Uruguayan cuisine to Japanese cuisine and Middle Eastern cuisine. Restaurant Arcadia atop the Plaza Victoria on the 25th floor of the Radisson Montevideo Victoria Plaza Hotel is widely regarded to be the finest restaurant in the city.
A torta frita is a pan-fried cake consumed in Montevideo and throughout Uruguay. It is generally circular, with a small cut in the centre for cooking, and is made from wheat flour, yeast, water and sugar or salt. Beef is very important in Uruguayan cuisine and an essential part of many dishes. Many of the restaurants serve beef steaks, pork or chicken dishes. Given that Montevideo is a coastal city, it is also provided by a plentiful supply of fresh fish which alongside beef and chicken is very important in the Montevideo cuisine. Some restaurants like Che Montevideo on the Rambla Gandhi in the Pocitos area of the city on the coast specialize in fresh seafood.
The centre of traditional Uruguayan food and beverage in Montevideo is the Mercado del Puerto ("Port Market"). This complex contains a considerable range of restaurants and cafes. La Palenque restaurant serves Uruguayan and Spanish cuisine with a variety of lamb, pork and cold meats dishes with vegetables, paella, rice and shellfish. Additionally, the market is host to various cultural events on Saturdays.
The center of traditional Uruguayan food and beverage in Montevideo is the Mercado del Puerto ("Port Market"). A torta frita is a pan-fried cake consumed in Montevideo and throughout Uruguay. It is generally circular, with a small cut in the centre for cooking, and is made from wheat flour, yeast, water and sugar or salt. Beef is very important in Uruguayan cuisine and an essential part of many dishes. Montevideo has a variety of restaurants, from traditional Uruguayan cuisine to Japanese cuisine such as sushi. Notable restaurants in Montevideo include Arcadia atop the Plaza Victoria, widely regarded to be the finest restaurant in the city. Arcadia is set in a classic Italian-inspired dining room and serves lavish dishes such as terrine of pheasant marinated in cognac, grilled lamb glazed with mint and garlic, and duck confit on thin strudel pastry with red cabbage. El Fogon is more popular with the late-night diners of the city. Its interior is brightly lit and the walls covered with big mirrors. Officially a barbecue and seafood restaurant, it serves grilled meat dishes, as well as salmon, shrimp and calamari. Also of note is the Cru. Numerous restaurants are located along the Rambla of Montevideo. There is an Irish pub in the eastern part of the Old District named Shannon Irish pub, another testament to the European heritage of the city.
As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is home to a number of festivals and carnivals including a Gaucho festival when people ride through the streets on horseback in traditional gaucho gear. The major annual festival is the annual Montevideo Carnaval which is part of the national festival of Carnival Week, celebrated throughout Uruguay, with central activities in the capital, Montevideo. Officially, the public holiday lasts for two days on Carnival Monday and Shrove Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, but due to the prominence of the festival, most shops and businesses close for the entire week. During carnival there are many open-air stage performances and competitions and the streets and houses are vibrantly decorated. "Tablados" or popular scenes, both fixed and movable, are erected in the whole city. Notable displays include "Desfile de las Llamadas" ("Parade of the Calls"), which is a grand united parade held on the south part of downtown, where it used to be a common ritual back in the early 20th century. Due to the scale of the festival, preparation begins as early as December with an election of the "zonal beauty queens" to appear in the carnival.