It's hot! A large group of people have joined us for the walking tour. Most are walking but a few of us opted to take taxis to the meeting place in Independence Square. The walking tour is free. Guides work for tips and the last time we were here our guide was excellent. This time it was no exception. Girardo was a hoot. Plus very knowledgeable. He loved Uruguay and started by telling us that the country was the first in South America to allow women to vote, to allow legalized abortion, gay marriage, and legal pot.
Girardo pointed out the Palacio designed by the architect Mario Palanti, an Italian immigrant. Finished in 1928, Palacio Salvo stands 330 ft high with the antenna included. The site was bought by the Salvo brothers for 650,000 Uruguayan pesos. It was built on the site where the Confiteria La Giralda was once located. The original specifications, describing the details of the construction, describe a lighthouse at the top of the building, which was replaced by a set of antennas. The specifications stated “on the top part of the tower a lighthouse will be placed made by Salmoiraghi of Italy, with a parabolic mirror of 36 in, reaching approximately 62 mi, and a rotating 100 amp lamp.” The building was originally intended to be a hotel, but this plan didn't work out, and it has since been occupied by a mixture of offices and private residences. The antennas were removed in 2012.
The Artigas Mausoleum is a monument to Uruguayan hero Jose Artigas. It opened in 1977. Artigas's remains are kept in an underground room underneath the statue. The monument is guarded by a traditional guard called "Blandegues de Artigas".
The Estevez Palace is a building situated in Independence Square designed in a combination of Doric and Colonial styles by Monoel de Castel in 1873. It has served as the working place of the President of Uruguay and has been eventually converted to a museum, housing artifacts and mementos of the Uruguayan presidency and its office holders.
The Solis Theatre represents the main artistic and cultural scene of Montevideo. It was founded in 856 under the name of the Spanish explorer Juan Diaz de Solis. Today elegant and majestic architectural features remain, both inside and outside the building.
We ended at the Mercado del Puerto. The Market was erected here in 1868 by Pedro Saenz de Zumaran and a group of Uruguayan entrepreneurs but built in Union Foundry Workshops in Liverpool. Everything was auctioned inside. Vegetables, fruit and meat coming from the inland areas as well as African slaves and other illegal imports from old Europe were sold there. Today craftsmen, coffee shops, restaurants and other venues give a permanent welcoming atmosphere to its old entrance which still looks onto the harbor area.