on April 13, 2010
This plaza is the perfect place to start an exploration of Montevideo. It marks the boundary between the new town and the old city. To the east, Avenue 18 de Julio leads through the new town with its shopping arcades filled with boutiques and bustling coffeehouses. To the west, through Puerta de la Ciudadela, lies the Ciudad Vieja, or old city. Just off the plaza to the south is the stately Teatro Solis, the city’s cultural palace, where you can attend plays and concerts.Montevideo's showpiece plaza contains some of the city's most impressive architecture, including its best-known landmark, the massive Italianate edifice of the Palacio Salvo, designed by an Italian architect Mario Palanti who was living in Buenos Aires. The building, finished in 1925, was originally intended as a hotel, but now comprises residential apartments and offices. For many decades it was the tallest building in South America, and is built on the site where Gerardo Matos Rodriguez is credited with writing the first tango in 1917. The Palacio Salvo still dominates Montevideo's skyline. You can take an elevator to the top for an excellent view of the city.The cream-coloured 18th-century Palacio Estevez, the old government house, on the south side and Radisson Hotel on the north frame the square’s main feature, a 17 meter high equestrian statue of Uruguay’s version of San Martin, Jose Gervasio Artigas. Artigas was the leader of Uruguay’s fight for independence from both the Portuguese and the Spanish. Below ground in the Mausoleo de Artigas, a 24-hour guard watches over Artigas’ remains. Puerta de la Ciudadela is the only gate of the original citadel of Montevideo that remains. That citadel had been built in 1746 and Puerta de la Ciudadela is now at the eastern side of Plaza Independencia, just about 50 meters from the monument for General Jose Gervasio Artigas. Like most of the Plazas in South America, there are benches to sit on, and day and night couples stroll through drinking their Mate. When we were there the plaza was busier than usual because of the exhibition of Buddy Bears but we still found it an enjoyable place to relax and watch the passing parade.Just a short distance away is the sexual diversity monument, erected in 2005. It is located on Policia Vieja St., between Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza Independencia. It reads "Honouring diversity is honouring life; Montevideo is for the respect of all identities and sexual orientations". It was South America's first monument dedicated to sexual diversity.
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