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Friday, July 22, 2011

The Fort in Santa Teresa!

I thought I would continue on with another travel post. My friends Mari and Shawn have some visitors arriving next month from the USA and were wondering what sights to take in and show them. I think the Santa Teresa Fort and the national park in the Department of Rocha are worth considering!

Located 302 Kms. away from MVD (Montevideo) near route 9, in the department of Rocha, is a National Park called Santa Teresa. This park is made up of some 1050 Hectares of land with over 2 plus million trees leading down to the ocean. These trees were planted as a means of sand control. Rocha is famous for it's huge sand dunes.

The Park is free to enter. It's open year round and has cabins available for rent as well as camping spots. You have to pay and register in advance for those over night stays as only so many people are allowed in the park, this is for crowd control. Hiking trails, a small zoo/ aviary, a beautiful old plant conservatory and a rose garden (with 300 different varieties of roses) are among the park's attractions.

The Fort is run by the Military but is a museum now. To visit the fort you have to check in at the guard station and pay about $25 pesos which is around $1.50 US.

The fortress was built in 1762. Started by the Portuguese it was then captured by the Spanish who  completed its construction. It was lost for a time beneath some sand dunes for many decades and was only recently rediscovered in 1928! The beautiful bosque or woods now surrounding the fort were planted at the suggestion of the attending Archeologist Horacio Arrendondo who aided in its recovery. This was done so that the sand dunes would never again cover this place and it be lost. Because this area was buried for so long and remained untouched, it is a rich archeological and anthropology site.

The Santa Teresa Fort is completely walled in by a double masonry wall with corner lookout towers and cannon slots built right into this wall. Obviously the fort was built on a hill to enable its inhabitants the advantage of seeing across great distances in order to give the soldiers advanced warning of enemy troops approaching. You can see all the way to the ocean from this fort.

The fort contains a chapel, a kitchen cookhouse and a Smith shop (for tool making) besides barracks (which now houses several models of  fortresses  seen throughout Uruguay).

One can also see and walk through the Command headquarters, see an antique sword and gun collection, visit the infirmary and the Magazine (where the Amo. was kept). I even took a picture of the Latrine located along the walls top. I guess besides bullets and cannon balls raining down on your enemy, other more unmentionable things could be "dumped" onto their heads!  

The grounds inside the fort are not flat but instead are rolling hills planted with grass giving the impression of gentle waves (of lawn) You feel as if you're in a very peaceful place despite its warlike history.

The fort is very lovely to look at because it is covered with mosses that give an effect of a beautiful old quilt, a mosaic of Ocher (Yellow/orange), red, blue and green mosses grow on its walls.

I think that visiting the fort is an exceptional value for the money. Come through its giant gate and step back into time. History and beauty await.




Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to moving to Uruguay with my family at the end of the year.

Thank you for a helpful and wonderful blog.

Denise said...

Your welcome!

The end of the year will be a great time to move down here as it is our summer season. The weather is wonderful then.

Let me know your progress, as it gets closer to your arrival date!

Ciao, Denise

Denise said...

During most of the year the fort is CLOSED! Monday and Tuesdays. It is open from 1 o'clock (13) to 6:30 (18:30) wednesday through Sunday (Lunes hasta Domingo) Starting January 3rd (enero 3) the high season, it should be open all the days. To be on the safe side however remember it is normally closed both monday and Tuesday,