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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Real de San Carlos

Real de San Carlos is just a stones throw away from Colonia del Sacramento where we spent our Anniversary weekend (about 5 kilometers away). I wanted to give it it's own post because this area has a unique history.

This area, called Real de San Carlos, was built at the beginning of the 20th century by Nicolás Mihanovich a real estate promoter as a tourist complex. It cost him an investment of some $1.5 Million (US), A lot of money in those days and it included a luxury hotel, a casino, a jai alai court, and a racetrack. Most interesting of all however was that Mr. Mihanovich built a Bull Ring into this tourist complex. Only the race track (horses) is still is up and functioning (People say entrance is $1 for men and women are free) I'll have to check that out next time. The Plaza de toros (bullring) opened on January 9th, 1910. It could hold 10,000 people. Bull fighting was outlawed here in 1912.

So you can see that the bull ring was only open for 2 years, it held only 8 bullfights in total. Urban legend has it that the then President of Uruguay, President José Batlle y Ordóñez once took his daughter with him to see one of the bull fights held there. Upon seeing how the bull was treated and then finally killed in-front of everyone she cried and complained so much to her father that the sport was then banned throughout Uruguay. He was an interesting President who fought for unemployment compensation, 8-hour work days, universal suffrage and many other things.

The design of the building is in the Moorish style with key-shaped entries and arrow shaped window and stairway openings. The building like so many other unfortunate ones here in Uruguay has been left to neglect and decay. The crumbling building seems to have been made of brick and cement with a fantastic iron structure holding it all up.

Of course, it has fallen into such a dangerous state that it is now closed for safety issues. Being the photographer that I am I shimmied under the chain link fence and took a look inside watching all the while for falling stones from above.

I am too much of an animal lover to ever want to visit an actual bull fight. To hurt the bull with lances is just cruel and mean. Just make the bull a little mad and maybe it's a fair sport but wounding it and killing it is awful. As some recent visitors to my house who have actually seen a live fight in Spain said "Yeah, We'll never go again, it was bad". When I entered the abandon ring  Wally saw that I hadn't been shot or killed so he ventured inside too for a photo opportunity. When would we ever be in the center of a bull ring again? Both Wally and I remarked how little maneuvering space was really there imagining that a wounded pissed-off bull was charging at us. Little wonder that bull fighters need a special breed of courage or insanity to face a charging bull. Their fighting costumes alone can be worth Thousands of dollars. For only 8 exhibitions, this bullring in Uruguay had some famous fighters of its time appear in this ring.

Real de San Carlos has a tiny railway museum across the street from this bullring with some restored rail cars. The sign for this museum says to keep your ticket, so I don't know if maybe this museum might be a part of the circuit of the ones in Colonia or not. The bus route of sightseeing that I mentioned in my previous post about Colonia stops here at the bullring and the train museum. It's 1 of the 10 points of interest. That's how we found out about the bus circuit.

This post should have been called bullring and sunset because of all the pictures I wanted to include. After wandering around the bullring we noticed that the sun was soon to set. We headed to the beach to join the many others with the same idea of seeing the sun set over the water.

Slowly people gathered as the time grew nearer. Wally and I decided to go a little farther up the beach away from the others and we were rewarded by a memorable sight. A man was exercising his racehorse in the river at sunset. I snapped away!

Then as the sun finally set, we watched a small rowboat paddle off into the setting sun.

A fitting memory of a happy Anniversary weekend well spent in Real de San Carlos.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great post about Real de San Carlos.

Wally looks "spectacular" in the center of the bullring. Maybe he missed his true calling? Great to see those pictures from the "inside".

I found it most interesting that the grass in center of the bullring appears to be mowed and well maintained. One would not think this would be the case in a building that is closed and left to decay.

A very beautiful sunset, too!


Seamus said...

Crawling under fences to get a picture!!

Sounds like the tales of my youth when nobody had any money and kids used to sneak into movie theaters or jump the fence at Cubs Park.

You two got moxie. Keep it up. (In Spanish that's called 'moxie'. I looked it up.)

Molly said...

What great photos of the sunset and the horse - could have been a post all on its own, with larger photos!

Molly, editor of South America

P.S. I have your blog on my blog page, need to move it up some notches as others are old and yours is still fresh, congrats.

TV said...

Your photography "eye" is getting so good! This along with your candid comments really makes us want to come see Uruguay.
Looks like you two have a lot of fun in that country. I always look forward to your new posts and check your blog often.