Downtown Montevideo is steeped in history. Most of the major streets are named after famous dates or figures and monuments dominate the major squares. While most flock to the Puerta de la Ciudadela (Door to the Citadel) or the Teatro Solís, the Mausoleo de Artigas demanded my attention.
General José Gervasio Artigas is considered Uruguay’s liberator. At age 12 he quit the seminary due to its strict discipline and became a rancher. On the ranches, Artigas slowly won over the other gauchos and formed an army. They sometimes fought in alliances, sometimes alone. His army faced off against the English, Spanish, and Portuguese empires and came out victorious. He died in exile, with his final act requesting a saddle so that he could die true to his gaucho roots: riding a horse.
A statue of Artigas is the central figure in Montevideo’s Plaza de Independencia. If you approach, you can see the steps that lead into the mausoleum.
Central to the mausoleum is an urn of General Artigas’ ashes, protected by two soldiers.
Landmark events in his life are recorded on the walls chronologically. Instead of plaques or inscriptions, cement three-dimensional letters are attached to the walls.
After ten minutes of silent awe, stairs lead you out of the monument and back to normal life.
For a better understanding of the monument and a 360 degree panorama, click here (website in Spanish)