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Día del Patrimonio by Susan Joyce

Día del Patrimonio
by Susan Joyce

One weekend in October is Día del Patrimonio (Heritage Days) in Uruguay and many buildings are open to the public. Our quiet beach town of Atlántida, Uruguay has a significant collection of quirky, cool buildings featuring a variety of innovative architectural designs.

One of the most famous structures was designed and engineered by Eladio Dieste, an architect who made his reputation by building numerous elegant structures from grain silos to churches. His buildings are a fusion of cutting-edge design and functionality featuring self-supporting double curved arches, built without any structural columns. We see this fine example often as it’s located near the butcher shop we frequent. It’s a must-see to share when we have visitors from abroad.


Iglesia del Cristo Obrero, designed by Elasio Dieste was built in 1958.

Another must-see favorite for originality is El Águila – The Eagle. In 1945, Italian millionaire Natalio Michelizzi, commissioned an Uruguayan builder (Juan Torres) to build him a statue of the Virgin Mary. Tores instead built a place where Michelizzi could read, paint and entertain. This meeting place for friends has given rise to several legends—from a Nazi observatory, a cosmic energy center, to a smuggler’s hideout.


We have, over the years, viewed several of the fine, old and restored buildings in Montevideo during Día del Patrimonio. So this year, we decided to venture inland, along country roads, and visit some unusual buildings in villages nearby.

Our first stop was lunch at the Parador (truck stop) Fito. Next we drove along a dirt road to see the offerings in Soca. We followed signs to a strange, wing-shaped private Soca Family Chapel. It was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Bonet Castellana in 1959. Although it was scheduled to be open to the public, a handwritten sign and padlock on the gate indicated it wasn’t. We took photos from the dirt road and drove on.


Next stop, Santuario Virgen de las Flores. It was open and warm, welcoming us inside to view its spacious beauty.

While there we discovered why the Soca Family Chapel was closed. Seems an infestation of honey bees were busy buzzing about inside the chapel. Perhaps the family will consider setting up a sanctuary for honey-bees.

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