Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay, and can be found across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires. Cruise ships sailing from Buenos Aires north to Rio de Janeiro or south to the Falklands or around Cape Horn to Valparaiso (Santiago) often include Montevideo as a port of call on their itineraries.
Montevideo is a nice place to spend the day, and even though it has over a million citizens, the old historic part of the city seems quite small. Montevideo is on a peninsula that separates the Rio de la Plata from the Atlantic Ocean. Cruise ships dock near the ferry terminal, and passengers can walk into the center of the old town.
We visited Montevideo on Celebrity Cruises' Infinity on a cruise from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro, and walked into town and did a few hours of exploring on our own.
The Infinity had tours to a ranch, a winery, a city tour, and a Jewish Heritage tour. We heard good reports from all of these, and the participants seemed to enjoy learning about Uruguay and Montevideo.
Legend says the early 18th century Portuguese explorers called "Monte vide eu" or "I see a mountain" - kind of like "Land Ho" - when they first saw this mountain overlooking the harbor of Montevideo. Thus, the city was named. It's a good story, isn't it? The land surrounding Montevideo is very flat, so this must have looked like a mountain from the sea!
Montevideo, Uruguay - View of the Palacio Salvo and Downtown
The 26-story Palacio Salvo was the tallest building in South America when it was built in 1927. It is still the tallest in Montevideo.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Plaza Zabala Gauchos
Gauchos play an important role in South America life and history.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Downtown Montevideo
Montevideo has a pedestrian-only street that stretches from Plaza Zabata to Plaza Independencia.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Plaza Constitución in Downtown Montevideo
The Plaza Constitución in downtown Montevideo has an excellent artisans' market that accepts U.S. dollars. Lots of good bargains can be found!
Montevideo, Uruguay - Shopping for Mata Tea Cups in Plaza Constitución
Drinking mata (a tea-like drink) is a big part of the culture in Uruguay and Argentina. This kiosk is selling mata cups and other paraphanalia.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Puerta de la Ciudadela
This old stone gateway is all that remains from the destruction of the colonial fort in 1833.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Teatro Solis on Plaza Independencia in Downtown Montevideo
Teatro Solis is the leading theater of Montevideo. A major renovation was completed in early 2007, and the restored theater is beautiful.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Statue of Jose Artigas on Plaza Independencia
Jose Artigas was the most important patriot leader in Uruguay's wars of independence against Spain. His mausoleum is below the statue.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Palacio Salvo on the Plaza Independencia
The Palacio Salvo was South America's tallest building when it was built in 1927. Its art deco style still dominates the Montevideo skyline.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Bottle Tree in Montevideo Park
These trees with trunks shaped like old-fashioned Coca-Cola bottles are aptly nicknamed, "bottle trees".
Montevideo, Uruguay - View of Celebrity Infinity from Downtown Montevideo
It is comforting to be able to see your beautiful cruise ship when strolling the streets in a foreign port!
Garbage Donkey Cart in Downtown Montevideo
First, the bicycle garbage man, and next the donkey cart in downtown Montevideo!
Montevideo, Uruguay - Garbage Donkey Cart in Downtown Montevideo
These excited young men are pointing at the beautiful cruise ship at the dock - the Celebrity Infinity.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Mercado del Puerto - Old Port Market Building
Be sure to visit the old port market building near the cruise ship pier in Montevideo. It's a great place for lunch or a cold beer.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Loading Logs onto Cargo Ship in Montevideo
I love watching the action at the pier, and these cranes loading large logs onto a cargo ship in Montevideo were very entertaining.
Montevideo, Uruguay - Seabourn Pride at the Dock in Montevideo
The Seabourn Pride joined the Celebrity Infinity in Montevideo. Note the "mountain" in the distance that gave the city its name.