montevideo: palacio legislativo

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo

Visiting the national congress was a challenge: internet said one thing, the TI said another & everyone in between had an opinion as to official visiting hours. After dragging Darío to the Cementerio Central, we took a bus there. I walked in to confirm the time & was comforted by the lack of security. Sure, I passed through a scanner but everyone was laid back & it seemed like we were all hanging out instead of me entering one of the most important buildings in the nation.

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo

A little history: Vittorio Meano had already won the contest to build the National Congress in Buenos Aires. His designs impressed Uruguay in spite of local building constrictions… o sea, no dome. But it’s an interesting compromise. Meano was assassinated before completing the project, so other architects took over. Four sculpture groups were added outside in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s:

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, La Justicia, 1976, Giannino Castiglioni

Vestíbulo de Honor

Whenever an important guest visits, they come here first. A couple of interesting paintings about the independence of Uruguay, plus a controversial version of the first encounter with Spanish… look for the centaur.

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Vestíbulo de Honor

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Vestíbulo de Honor

Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

The central hallway connects all points & ideas. We happened to run into the end of a session, & afterwards the Vice-President of Uruguay came out to answer questions from the press. No security other than a few guards at the door. Poco. I could have gone up & introduced myself… absolutely wonderful. Isn’t this how it should be? Add to this viewing the original, handwritten Uruguay constitution. Covered in plexiglass, the historian in me couldn’t help but get excited by being so close to such an important document.

Back to the central hall: Venetian mosaics representing Arts & Sciences decorate both ends of the hall. Most interesting are four reliefs representing the four sections of the Uruguay coat-of-arms: Liberty, Abundance, Strength & Justice:

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Pasos Perdidos, Constitución

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Salón de los Perdidos

Cámara de Senadores

The guide told us that seating is made of mahogany from Paraguay. Great. But realizing the somewhat small size of the Senate was a revelation. Geographically, Uruguay is no larger than the state of Washington. There’s no need to make a gigantic Congress, but what an incredible amount of decoration.

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Senado

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Senado

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Senado

Biblioteca

Built in Italy, shipped over & reassembled piece by piece, all books published in Uruguay must have a copy here. Eagle heads are priceless. A copy of Venus de Milo isn’t half bad either.

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Biblioteca

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Biblioteca, Venus de Milo

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Biblioteca

Central patios

Anyone familiar with esgrafiado will love the interior patios. Similar etched designs are found from Segovia to Barcelona… many original colors survive.

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, esgrafiado

Cámara de Representantes

Equivalent of the House of Representatives in the US, the focus of this chamber is a quote by founding father Artigas: “Mi autoridad emana de vosotros y ella cesa ante vuestra presencia soberana”. A rough translation would be: “My authority emanates from you and it ends before your sovereign presence.” Fantastic.

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Cámara de Representantes

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Cámara de Representantes

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Cámara de Representantes

Montevideo, Palacio Legislativo, Cámara de Representantes

Be sure to visit… the relaxed atmosphere will certainly change your opinion about big government.

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Montevideo series: First impressions Ciudad Vieja Avenida 18 de Julio Pocitos Cementerio Central Palacio Legislativo La Aguada Parque Rodó El Prado Final thoughts

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