Colonia San Francisco

The oldest settlement is a Portuguese town of Colonia San Francisco renovated by the state to add to the to tourist enjoyment. The UN listed it as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the little shops and restaurants began to populate the streets. First in 1680 it was a fort to protect the interests of the Portuguese against the Spanish who saw all of South America as theirs.

On the way from Montevideo we stopped at a small town formed in order to serve fans of bullfights. Argentina passed laws that forbade bullfighting si local business man and his son bought a lot of land and built a bull ring. the walls were built of single wythe brick, abandoned it now shows lots of stess cracks and missing pieces. Folks from Buenos Aeries would take a ferry across. The entrepreneurs opened a Casino hotel and had concessions inside and outside the bull ring. They also built a horse track for racing.

Sadly for the owners Uruguay also passed a law against bull fighting only two years after Argentina. They retained the caino and track and for some years the people from Buenos Aires took then ferry to Colonia San Francisco. The casino closed in 1970s and about 3 years ago has been turned into a private college, but the ferry has been in contuoius operation and is the fastest was to get to Montevideo from BA with a trip of 1.5 hours on the ferry and about 2 hours to the city.

The bull ring with a steel frame with all the materials used for roof, walkways and stairs gone. The outside wall is one brick thick and this is the most extant facade, others are either badly cracked or completely destroyed.

There are condos and house outside the historic town owned mostly by Brazilians coming by ferry. The old town hss two plazas, one within the old wall built in 1670s, the other built sometime later. A Franciscan church was built near the oldest wall but abandoned due to failure to attract adherents. The base of the modern lighthouse are the remains of the church. There are restaurants, galleries, shops and a good visitors office around the main square.

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On the planet in California

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