Uruguay, Montevideo Guide (A): Walking Through Ciudad Vieja

Walking Through Ciudad Vieja
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Montevideo is not a huge capital city with accompanying hustle and bustle. It’s a mellow (“tranquilo” as often declared by locals) city with a ubiquitously relaxed vibe. If you are looking for a leisurely walk through the heart of the city, Ciudad Vieja (Old Town), then don’t pass up the walking street of Peatonal Sarandi. Follow this guide to enjoy an educational, entertaining, and filling (i.e. food) experience.

Walk Route

Guide Name: Walking Through Ciudad Vieja
Guide Location: Uruguay » Montevideo
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Plaza de Independencia   Palacio Salvo   Cafe Bacacay   Teatro Solis   Pubs and Nightclubs of Ciudad Vieja   Plaza Matriz   Plaza Zabala   Mercado del Puerto  
Author: Dominic DeGrazier
Author Bio: Dominic is a freelance writer and photographer who calls both Montevideo, Uruguay and San Diego, California home. He is a frequent contributor to the San Diego Reader, and his work has been featured on Bootsnall.com, Matadortrips.com, Gonomad.com, and Intheknowtraveler.com among others.
Author Website: http://movingmontevideo.blogspot.com
Plaza de Independencia

1) Plaza de Independencia

Here we are at the city’s main plaza, the Plaza de Independencia. The city’s artery street, 18 de Julio, ends here serviced by a multitude of bus routes coming from all parts of the city. In the center of the plaza the country’s father, General Artigas, rides his warhorse, and his mausoleum resides underneath the ground and can be visited. This plaza marks the split between new and old Montevideo. On the east side of the plaza, one can see the Puerta de la Ciudadela (the last remaining...
Palacio Salvo

2) Palacio Salvo

But before we walk though the Puerta de la Ciudadela, take notice varying architecturally styled buildings surrounding the area. One of these structures is the picturesque Palacio Salvo on the opposite end of the plaza. The view of this building from here is one of Montevideo’s most famous pictures. This hotel was built in 1920’s by an Italian immigrant, and stood as South America’s tallest building for decades. It continues to be the tallest building in Montevideo, but no longer on the...
Cafe Bacacay

3) Cafe Bacacay

Peatonal Sarandi’s stoned path stretches for seven blocks, for now. The city plans to extend the walkway two more blocks, then continue the extension north via Perez Castellano street three blocks until finally ending at the famed Mercado del Puerto – something that we will see later in the tour. But back to where we are, after walking the first block, take a left on Bacacay and enjoy one of the many small modern cafes. This road is rumored to have been named long ago when cows roamed the...
Teatro Solis

4) Teatro Solis

Teatro Solis was officially inaugurated in 1856; its name comes from the Spanish explorer who discovered the nearby Rio de la Plata. Teatro Solis hosts classical, tango, jazz and other musical concerts as well as dance performances, plays, and more. Due to a fire, the Teatro Solis was closed in 1998. After six years of remodeling to ensure its safety, in 2004 the theatre was again opened to the public. It is one of the gems of Montevideo, and Uruguay for that matter. Enter the building to check...
Image by Jimmy Baikovicius under Creative Commons License.
Pubs and Nightclubs of Ciudad Vieja

5) Pubs and Nightclubs of Ciudad Vieja

Now let’s get back to Peatonal Sarandi. Taking a left and continuing on the second block of the town’s walking street, you are approaching the hub of Ciudad Vieja’s pedestrian activity. Tourists freshly arrived from their cruise ship mix easily with businessmen eating their midday lunches next to street artisans enjoying a mellow Uruguayan day. The next cross street you encounter is Bartolome Mitre. Hang a left and you have entered Ciudad Vieja’s pub section. On a sunny day there...
Plaza Matriz

6) Plaza Matriz

Continuing on Peatonal Sarandi begins the area where most of the street’s artisans usually camp shop. They are a friendly group of people – some nomads, others who have been here for years. Among them you might see "Antonio the Payaso (clown)". Antonio paints his own face every morning, plays games with children passing by and loves to chat with anyone and everyone. Coming up on your right will be Plaza Matriz, or Plaza de la Constitucion. It is the center of Peatonal Sarandi’s...
Image by Pablo Viojo under Creative Commons License.
Plaza Zabala

7) Plaza Zabala

Continuing along the next four blocks of the Peatonal, more artisans will be passed with their displays (mainly on weekends), along with more cafes and restaurants. Upon reaching the end of the present day walking street, take a right on Alzaibar. You will find two things upon facing down this street: 1) a fantastic empanada restaurant and 2) a gorgeously small and somewhat hidden plaza. Malfada Empanadas will be on your immediate left hand side. Stop in there to grab an empanada filled with a...
Mercado del Puerto

8) Mercado del Puerto

Although the walking street does not continue on from this point, we are only four blocks away from where it begins again and leads to the famed Mercado del Puerto. This is Montevideo’s most famous area to sample their delicious meat delights and indulge yourself with medio y medio (an alcoholic drink made of half wine and half champagne). This open-aired food market has been in business since 1868 – it’s almost as old as the entire nation. The market has a couple dozen restaurants to...