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Visiting the Cathedral at Maldonado, Uruguay: Sedate, 19th Century Neo-Classicism
Memories of the late Colonial era
In neo-Classical style, the twin, domed towers of the Cathedral form a significant landmark in the small city of Maldonado, capital of the Uruguayan department of the same name.
This striking Cathedral building was commenced in 1801 as a smaller chapel by clergyman Dámaso Gómez de Fonseca, towards the end of the Spanish colonial period. This occurred at a time when British military forces were undertaking hostile action in the area and the chapel is known to have served as a place of refuge from British forces.
The buidling was eventually completed in 1895. Its full name is San Fernando Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral San Fernando ). Maldonado itself was founded by Montevideo's colonial governor Don Joaquín de Viana in 1755, during the reign of Spanish king Ferdinand VI (Spanish: Fernando VI ), hence the later naming, at least, indirectly, of the Cathedral also. The public square which the Cathedral faces is itself known as Plaza de San Fernando .
The frontage of the Cathedral dominates the public square in Downtown Maldonado: a not unusual urban landscape for Latin American cities with a Spanish colonial past.
It may be noted that the sizeable, colonial church at San Carlos, a few kilometres to the north of Maldonado, predates Maldonado Cathedral by a number of decades; but, given Maldonado's status as deparmental capital, it was the church here that eventually achieved cathedral status.
Also worth seeing
In the city of Maldonado itself, the late 18th century Blandengues barracks, almost adjacent to the Cathedral, have associations with General José Gervasio Artigas, honoured as Uruguay's main Independence-era leader. Punta del Este , within the Maldonado city limits, is a popular resort in a scenic, peninsular location; to the east, across the bay from Punta del Este is Punta Ballena , a noted whale-watching spot. A visit to the city of Maldonado can be combined with a day trip to Punta del Este from Montevideo, if the traveller is not staying in the immediate area.
How to get there: LanChile flies to Montevideo , Uruguay from North American destinations which include New York and Toronto . The Uruguayan airline PLUNA, which codeshares with VARIG, flies to a number of Latin American regional destinations. Car rental is available at Montevideo Carrasco International airport. Mainly seasonal flights from Buenos Aires also operate to Laguna del Sauce International Airport (which principally serves the Punta del Este area), where car rental is also available. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.