The modern and refined city of Montevideo, is often described as a vibrant, eclectic place, with a rich cultural life
Uruguayan culture has a mixed heritage between Spanish & Portuguese both in arts, religion, literature, cuisine and music. These two cultures can be found throughout its cities.
Built by the Spanish in the early 18th century as a military stronghold, Montevideo abounds with cultural attractions. From the Ciudad Vieja "Barrio", where the famous Ramblas is located, to the Mercado Del Puerto, founded in 1885 by the Spanish merchant Zumarán Pedro Saenz, the city is undoubtedly Spanish and is often compared to Barcelona.
On the other hand, the picturesque town of Colonia Del Sacramento was founded by Portuguese explorers, and stayed under Portuguese influence for many years. That is why the Historic City centre is the only example of an urban plan in Uruguay that does not fill the rigid "checkerboard" grid imposed by Spain during colonial time. From the stone houses, to narrow cobbled streets, passing by the lighthouse and small traditional cafés. Colonia often recalls small Portuguese coastal towns.
Almost 90% of Uruguay's people are of European descent, Spanish and Italian predominating, with an easy-going and friendly demeanour, and very close-knit families. They are generally open-minded and extremely welcoming. Most of them will be pleased to invite foreigners to spend the weekend away at the beach or asado (barbeque) with their family.