Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento
Historic Quarter Of The City Of Colonia Del Sacramento
Cultural Uruguay Latin America And The Caribbean Department De Colonia

The Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento bears remarkable testimony in its layout and its buildings to the nature and objectives of European colonial settlement, in particular during the seminal period at the end of the 17th century.

Dom Pedro, Prince Regent of Portugal, commissioned his chief minister Manuel Lobo, named Governor of Rio de Janeiro, in 1678 to found a settlement on the Río de la Plata, on the island of St Gabriel. Work began in 1680 and in 1690 Master Church and the Franciscan convent were built.

In 1704-5, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the town was razed to the ground after it was taken. Reconstruction began immediately, and by 1718 there were over 1,000 inhabitants. From the time that Antonio Pedro de Vasconcellos took over as Governor in 1722, Sacramento became the powerhouse of material, commercial and cultural development in the colony. The success of Sacramento as a commercial entrepot had a decisive influence on the development of Buenos Aires and its region.

The town changed hands again in 1762 when it was taken over by the Spanish, but returned to Portugal the following year, after yet another treaty was signed by the two rival powers. The successful siege of 1777 saw Sacramento definitively incorporated in the Spanish Empire under the terms of the treaty of San Ildefonso;part of the fortifications were dismantled and a few houses demolished, but the urban fabric for the most part survived. Between 1839 and 1851 the new nation was engaged in the 'Great War' against its neighbour, Argentina. What remained of its defences was finally demolished in 1859. However, much influence had passed to the national capital, Montevideo. The historical importance of Sacramento was first recognized in 1924, when there was an unsuccessful attempt to have part of the town designated a National Monument.

The old Portuguese town, Nova Colonia do Santissimo Sacramento, was built on the extreme west side of a peninsula near the Río de la Plata. The town itself was bounded by water on its north, west and south sides and to the east by the former lines of defensive walls and bastions.

Today the historic area is defined by the axis of Calle Ituzaingo. The range of buildings is wide in both time and style, and the town has preserved its urban layout and a remarkable collection of structures bearing witness to its more than three centuries of Portuguese, Spanish, and Uruguayan history. Its form is organic, adapted to the topography of the site. It also exercised an unquestioned influence on architectural development in colonial style on either side of the Río de la Plata, where there are examples of Portuguese influence. A number of distinguished Portuguese architects served the Portuguese state in the former Colonia del Sacramento.

The foundation of the town was in fact a somewhat delayed consequence of the claims of the two great colonial powers, Portugal and Spain, in South America, who competed for the power to export the riches of the mines in Peru and the fruits of the agricultural areas in Brazil.