Prado District Walking Tour, Montevideo

Prado District Walking Tour (Self Guided), Montevideo

A quiet, upscale barrio El Prado, in the north of Montevideo, is famous primarily for the sprawling park of the same name. Indeed, the city’s main green space, Parque del Prado is a major public venue made up of grassy fields, with the Arroyo Miguelete (Miguelete Creek) running through it, for which the neighborhood has been dubbed "the lung of the city".

Apart from the park, however, the area boasts a number of other places of interest, including the Juan Manuel Blanes Museum of Fine Arts, housed in a 19th-century villa and exhibiting the works of national, Latin American and European art from the 15th to the 20th centuries.

The peaceful, tree-lined streets of the district are lined with mansions built in the early 1900s. Chief among them, undoubtedly, is Residencia de Suarez, an official home of every president of Uruguay since 1947. Also here is one of the most beautiful buildings in Montevideo, the Neo-Gothic Soneira Castle, built in 1861; currently accommodating an educational institution. Right behind it is the Montevideo Botanical Garden, a large fenced park with over 1,000 plant species.

The neighborhood is full of Christian temples of various denominations. The 1920s-built Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, popularly known as "Iglesia de los Carmelitas", is perhaps the most photographed among them.

For a more detailed acquaintance with these and other attractions of El Prado, take our self-guided walking tour and enjoy this part of the Uruguayan capital to the fullest!
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Prado District Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Prado District Walking Tour
Guide Location: Uruguay » Montevideo (See other walking tours in Montevideo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: jenny
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Juan Manuel Blanes Museum
  • Aparicio Saravia Statue
  • Castillo Soneira (Soneira Castle)
  • Residencia de Suarez (Suarez Residence)
  • Jardin Botanica (Botanical Garden)
  • Iglesia Carmelitas (Carmelite Church)
  • Monumento A La Diligencia (Stagecoach Monument)
  • The Last Charrúas Monument
  • Parque Prado (Prado Park)
1
Juan Manuel Blanes Museum

1) Juan Manuel Blanes Museum

Juan Manuel Blanes was born in Montevideo in 1830. He was an accomplished portraitist and landscape artist. He achieved fame with his "social" painting, "Episode of Yellow Fever," in 1871. He was celebrated for his depictions of historical events and heroes, especially his portrait of Jose de San Martin, the hero of Argentine independence.

Blanes died at the age of 70 in Pisa, Italy, in the house of a friend. In 1930, the city of Montevideo named the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts in his memory. The museum is located in the Palladio Villa (Palladio House) in Prado Park on the banks of Miguelete Creek.

The house was designed and built in 1870 by Uruguayan architect Juan Alberto Capurro for The Italian Consul, Juan Bautista Roffo. The museum was renovated in 1929 by architect Eugenio Baroffio. He expanded the building but left the eclectic facade intact.

Juan Manuel Blanes Museum holds Uruguayan art dating from the beginnings of the nation until the present day. The permanent collection includes works of Juan Manuel Blanes, Pedro Figari, Rafael Barradas, Jose Cuneo, and Carlos Gonzales.

Behind the Museum is the Japanese Garden of Montevideo. It was donated in 2001 by Japanese Princess Sayako. The museum is open every day, from 12 pm to 5:45 pm, from Tuesday through Sunday. There is no admission charge.
2
Aparicio Saravia Statue

2) Aparicio Saravia Statue

The equestrian statue of Aparicio Saravia (1856 – 1904), a Uruguayan politician and military commander, member of the Uruguayan National Party, refers to an era of civil unrest in Uruguay. A revolutionary leader at the helm of a 15,000-strong army, Saravia waged war against the Uruguayan government at the turn of the last century. After his death in battle in 1904, the army was disbanded and the so-called Saravian Revolution, the last civil war in Uruguayan history, came to an end, followed by the Peace of Aceguá which finally brought stability to the country.

The statue is the work of José Luis Zorilla de San Martin (1891–1975), a prominent Uruguayan sculptor and painter, whose style is characterized by a blend of baroque and modern elements. The creative vision of Zorrilla de San Martín regarding monumental sculpture is best described with his own words: “Strong and powerful in every element. Without a shade of doubt or obscurity, but simple and eloquent. Thousands of men, women and children will pass by a monument every day, going about their business: work, home, school or amusement. I would like each of them, within a brief moment that they can dedicate to a bronze statue, to get a categorical and conclusive message of patriotism, freedom and courage; a message that will be the voice of the glorious tradition of our nation.”

Although the original sketches for the monument were drawn around 1930, it was only a quarter of a century later that it finally materialized – cast at the prestigious Vignali foundry. Commissioned by the Directorate of the National Party, Zorrilla de San Martín unveiled the statue – one of his last works and artistic legacy for both the city and the country – on May 18, 1956.

The depiction of Aparicio Saravia, the caudillo clad in poncho, with a hat, mounted on a horse “whose agile ears look like antennas receiving messages from the fields and jungles,” is an enduring symbol of the homeland of warriors on horseback. "The eastern land that is guarded here has the blood of the heroes who, [together] with General Aparicio Saravia, spilled it on the battlefields in the fight for civic liberties," says the inscription at the foot of the monument. The suggestive patina of time and the horizontal gaze of the caudillo, fixed in bronze, show that here, once again, tradition becomes spirit.
3
Castillo Soneira (Soneira Castle)

3) Castillo Soneira (Soneira Castle)

In 2017, the College of San Pablo in Montevideo acquired Soneira Castle and the Castle lands to expand its campus. The property reached back to the Botanic Gardens. It included an 18-hole golf course, an Olympic size swimming pool, a tennis court, and more. But the jewel of the purchase is the mysterious, emblematic Castle.

The so-called Castle is the ultimate 19th-century Neo-Gothic residence. It far exceeds anything Hollywood's Adams family could hope for. Its actual address is Avenida Suarez 3781, next door to the Presidential Residence. It was built in 1861 for the Soneira family of Montevideo by French architect Victor Rabu.

In 1914 architect Camille Gardelle renovated the property, using original materials imported from Europe. The Castle in its original form was a bit smaller. It had two main floors, used for habitation and reception. The basement was used by the household staff. The attic was a studio for the son of the family.

The interior comfort was brought up to date with central heating and electrification. Imported materials included Venetian and Florentine tiles for the floors, Slovenian oak, and Carrara Marble for the stairs. The windows now have stained glass.
4
Residencia de Suarez (Suarez Residence)

4) Residencia de Suarez (Suarez Residence)

Residencia Presidencial de Suárez y Reyes, or simply Residencia de Suárez (Spanish for Suarez Residence), is the official residence of the president of Uruguay, so-called because it is located at the intersection of Suarez and Reyes streets, in Prado, Montevideo. To its back lies the Montevideo Botanic Garden. It was built during the first presidential term of José Batlle y Ordoñez.

In 1907 the land lot was acquired by Adelina Lerena de Fein at auction. There, the Fein Lerena family ordered the construction of a three-storey house by the young architect Juan María Aubriot, who finished the work in 1908.

After the death of the house owner, the family decided to sell the estate, which was acquired by the German Werner Quincke; He commissioned reforms to the architect Karl Trambauer, who added its characteristic tower. The Quincke family sold it to the Susviela Elejalde family, who were forced to give up their rights to the Montevideo Municipality due to financial problems.

In 1925, the young Luis Batlle Berres and Matilde Ibáñez Tálice met while walking in front of this property. Soon after they were married. In 1947, Luis Batlle Berres was already president, and at the suggestion of his wife they chose this mansion as their official residence. They commissioned reforms to the architect Juan Scasso (who designed and built the Centenario Stadium).
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
5
Jardin Botanica (Botanical Garden)

5) Jardin Botanica (Botanical Garden)

The Botanical Garden of Montevideo is an open museum of nature, located in the Prado Park of Montevideo. Its official name is "Museum and Botanical Garden Professor Atillio Lombardo." Mr. Lombardo was the Garden and Museum director for 40 years.

The Botanical Garden was created in 1902 by the French landscape architect Carlos Racine. As of today, the gardens occupy more than thirty-two acres of land. It is a brilliant way to escape into the air of nature without leaving the city. On the walks of the gardens are examples of 1,000 species of vegetation.

The Botanical Garden is an oasis where one may find almost every type of flora in South America. There are 1,761 types of trees, some over 100 years old, 620 shrubs, and over 2,400 flowers. Zones harbor the plants according to their environmental needs and peculiar properties, including water, shade, and medicinal qualities.

The gardens breed butterflies. There are 53 species of butterflies living only in the park. Five different families of Lepidoptera are represented. Visitors are allowed to watch them and take photographs. The best times for pictures are spring and summer. The park is open daily from 7 am to 5:30 pm. Friday is for children and student groups.
6
Iglesia Carmelitas (Carmelite Church)

6) Iglesia Carmelitas (Carmelite Church)

Also known as "Church of the Virgin of Mount Carmel and Saint Therese of Lisieux," the Carmelite Church is a Roman Catholic parish church located in the Prado district of Montevideo. The edifice was built in Neo-Gotic style between 1929-1954 by architects Guillermo Armas and Albérico Isola.

The architectural style of the building is influenced by the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. It has three naves and a width of 131 feet. There are statues of Saint Teresita de Jesus and Saint John of the Cross. Every corner of the facade and structure is a work of art.

The church was held by the Carmelite Order until 1995. It was then leased to the Archdiocese of Montevideo. The parish of the church was established in 1962. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Therese of Lisieux, a French Carmelite nun, widely venerated in modern times.
7
Monumento A La Diligencia (Stagecoach Monument)

7) Monumento A La Diligencia (Stagecoach Monument)

Jose Belloni was born in Montevideo in 1882. His parents were from Switzerland and Spain. He took an early interest in art and studied sculpture in Lugano and Munich. Jose Belloni participated in numerous exhibitions throughout Europe. He ultimately returned to Montevideo, where his sculptures created a demand for his works in monuments.

His style was naturalist if mildly heroic. One of his major pieces, La Diligencia, (a Stagecoach) struggling to emerge from a mire, sits on the shore of Miguelete Creek at the entrance to Prado Park. The sculpture was moved from its original location to make way for a viaduct.

The piece is strikingly natural and realistic, with bronze horses dragging the coach up from the mud of the creek while the teamster leads their efforts. A woman clutching an infant sit on the stage bench as the stage struggles to emerge from the deeps.

La Diligencia and the Monument a La Carreta (the Carriage) are two significant works of Belloni that resonate with each other. The Carriage monument is in the Batlle Park. To visit the Diligence may take any one of fifteen different omnibus lines. All roads, it seems, eventually lead to the park.
8
The Last Charrúas Monument

8) The Last Charrúas Monument

The names of the last Charruas people alive on the planet were Senaque, Vaimaca-Piru, Guyunusa, and Tacuabe. All the other Charruas in the Uruguay area had been wiped out by the waves of European invasion. These four hapless survivors were taken to France to be "studied." They died in France, perhaps from terminal sadness.

The bronze Monument of the Last of the Charruas is in the Prado District, on Avenida Delmira Agustini. The sculpture was created by the Uruguayan artists Edmundo Prati, Gervasio Munoz, and Enrique Lussich. It was unveiled in 1938.

The figures are dressed in their traditional clothes. They are gathered around a fire and cauldron. Senaque, on the left, is seated, holding a cup of mate in his right hand. The cacique (chief), Vaimaca, stands behind. Guyunusa sits, nursing a child. In front of her is her husband, Tacuabe.

These four and the infant were all who survived the Massacre of Saispuedes, carried out by the militia of General Rivera in April 1831. The prisoners were taken to France to be exhibited as exotic savages. The remains of Vaimaca were mummified and returned to Uruguay.
9
Parque Prado (Prado Park)

9) Parque Prado (Prado Park)

Parque Prado is the largest of Montevideo's six principal public parks. Established in 1873, it covers an area of 106 hectares and is located in the barrio of Prado. Located in the northern part of the city, the Miguelete Creek flows through the neighbourhood and park of the same name. The Presidential Residence is located behind the Botanical Gardens. Surrounded by the avenues Agraciada, Lucas Obes, Joaquín Suárez, Luis Alberto de Herrera and Castro streets and José María Reyes is Rosedal, the rose garden. The garden contains four pergolas, eight domes, and a fountain, while the 12,000 roses were imported from France in 1910.

There are two museums in the Prado. Established in 1930, Juan Manuel Blanes Museum is situated in the Palladian villa, a National Historic Landmark since 1975 and includes a Japanese garden. The Professor Atilio Lombardo Museum and Botanical Gardens were established in 1902. The National Institute of Physical Climatology and its observatory are also in the Prado. Across the Miguelete Creek from the Blanes Museum, in the neighborhood of Paso de las Duranas is a smaller park area which is called Prado Chico (Small Prado) and is considered as an extension of the Prado Park.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Montevideo, Uruguay

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles