Sitting on a peninsula jutting out into the estuary of the Rio de la Plata lays the UNESCO world heritage city of Colonia. This old Portuguese settlement dates to about 1680, and exploring its broad, winding cobblestone streets on foot make you feel transported back to long forgotten times.
Colonia was the only Portuguese settlement along the Rio de la Plata. Founded as Nova Colonia do Sacramento in 1680 and was the focus of struggle between the Spanish, who founded the settlement at Montevideo in response. The Portuguese made it a fortress city and for years it operated as a contraband port, evading the strictures imposed on trade by the Spanish crown.
The 17th century was a time when Baroque architecture was thriving and this architectural style was introduced to Colonia, by Portuguese builders, many of whom were then living in Brazil. This traditional Portuguese architecture has been well preserved through the years and today the charming, cobblestone streets and colourful, flat roofed buildings and old sycamore trees provide a way see how they lived more than 300 years ago.
Colonia is a favourite retreat for Portenos (inhabitants of Buenos Aires) wishing to escape the city and is worth at least a day’s visit from Buenos Aires.
There are 2 to 3 daily ferries daily from Buenos Aires and a hydrofoil services to/from Buenos Aires – hydrofoil does the journey in about an hour and costs three times more than a regular ferry which takes 3 hours.