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Once an old port building, it has since been transformed into a magnificent, bustling food market filled with talented street musicians and artists.Photographers will be in their element with a visit to Colonia del Sacramento, situated around 180 kilometres west of the capital.Facing the mouth of the world's widest river, the River Plate, the city is fringed by white-sand river beaches and filled with glorious 19th-century architecture.Montevideo was developed as a slave port in the 18th century by the Spanish, a history that can be traced in the neighbourhoods that skirt the river – the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town), Barrio Sur and Palermo – where some of the city's most beautiful architecture and splendid plazas can be seen.The origin of the Candombe was even earlier in time, dating back to the colonial era of Montevideo when the Africans who were sold as slaves adopted the distinctive lilting rhythm as a ritual to honour their gods.To talk of tango is to talk of Carlos Gardel (The Songbird), of Julio Sosa (The Man of Tango), it’s to talk of Mattos Rodriguez (the creator of the most famous tango in history; the most frequently listened to and widely played “La Cumparsita”), and it’s to talk of milonga and arrabal.
As you would expect, the gaucho culture is ever-present in Uruguay and is passionately celebrated during the Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha in Tacuarembo during March.
It is the former home of Uruguay’s first president but is now part of the National History Museum and houses an impressive collection of paintings, furniture and artefacts dating back to the nation’s indigenous roots.
Montevideo's gastronomic centre is the Mercado del Puerto.
With an area of approximately 176,000 square kilometres (68,000 sq mi), Uruguay is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America, after Suriname.
Uruguay was inhabited by the Charrúa people for approximately 4,000 years before the Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento, one of the oldest European settlements in the region, in 1680.