Located north & further inland from the Ciudad Vieja, the area that comprises El Prado began as an agricultural zone with large farms & only a few roads. But Montevideo under siege in the 19th century drove upper class families away from the city center. Villas with large gardens popped up everywhere in El Prado, attempting to maintain the area’s rural character. Although many mansions disappeared by the beginning of the 20th century, several survived & have been repurposed. For example…
The casa quinta Alfonso Seré is now a retirement home ironically titled “El Atardecer,” the sunset:
The heavily-secured casa quinta Eastman serves as an army division headquarters:
The casa quinta Aurelio Berro found new use as a church & its offices:
In fact, the entire area around Avenida Agraciada is full of beautiful houses of every shape & style imaginable. The Neogothic Iglesia de los Carmelitas fits right in:
The southern sector of Avenida Agraciada—toward Arroyo Miguelete—is not as stately but is still charming. I ran into a street market with amazing produce, the Alhambra-inspired Cine Alcázar (sealed shut but still standing), a barrio popular with lots of barking dogs & some church ruins. Talk about variety!
Picnic lunches are a way of life for me, so I went to a nearby supermarket & got a freshly-made sandwich to take to the park El Prado is named after. Created at the end of the 19th century, I felt like the only tourist in this beautifully manicured green space. What I didn’t realize is that José Belloni‘s 1952 sculpture “La Diligencia” is right there. Remember him from Parque Rodó? The reins may be missing today, but seeing gauchos cross a river in a covered wagon is pure delight. The rose garden was pretty spectacular as well.
My main objective was to visit the Blanes Museum, but the house had sustained major water damage & carpets were ruined. The staff really wanted to let me in but said they’d had a bad experience with an exception they’d made recently. No problem. As a tour guide, I can understand. But knowing that it may be a long time before I return to Montevideo, I couldn’t help but be disappointed.
At least I wandered over to the 1913 pavilions of a rural expo designed by Catalán architect Cayetano Buigas y Monravá… the same guy responsible for the Columbus monument in Barcelona. Amazing to see a bit of modernisme in Montevideo!