Montevideo facts for kids
Former colonial name:
City of San Felipe y Santiago de Montevideo
A view of downtown Montevideo
|Nickname(s): La Muy Fiel Y Reconquistadora
The Very Faithful And Reconquerer
|Motto: Con libertad ni ofendo ni temo
With liberty I offend not, I fear not.
|Founded by||Bruno Mauricio de Zabala|
|• Capital city||209 km2 (81 sq mi)|
|• Urban||429 km2 (166 sq mi)|
|• Metro||1,350 km2 (520 sq mi)|
|Elevation||43 m (141 ft)|
|• Capital city||1,319,108 (1st)|
|Time zone||UYT (UTC−3)|
|• Summer (DST)||UYST (UTC−2)|
|Postal code||11#00 & 12#00|
|Dial plan||+598 2 (+7 digits)|
|HDI (2005)||0.884 – high
1st Capital City in Latin America
Montevideo is the capital and the largest city in Uruguay. It was founded by the Portuguese in 1717. Its best neighbourhood is called Carrasco. This neighbourhood is very exclusive due to its architectural styles.
- Economy and infrastructure
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Montevideo is situated on the north shore of the Río de la Plata, the arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the south coast of Uruguay from the north coast of Argentina; Buenos Aires lies 230 kilometres (140 mi) west on the Argentine side. The Santa Lucía River forms a natural border between Montevideo and San José Department to its west. To the city's north and east is Canelones Department, with the stream of Carrasco forming the eastern natural border. The coastline forming the city's southern border is interspersed with rocky protrusions and sandy beaches. The Bay of Montevideo forms a natural harbour, the nation's largest and one of the largest in the Southern Cone, and the finest natural port in the region, functioning as a crucial component of the Uruguayan economy and foreign trade. Various streams criss-cross the town and empty into the Bay of Montevideo. Its coastline near the emptying rivers are heavily polluted.
The city has an average elevation of 43 metres (141 ft). Its highest elevations are two hills: the Cerro de Montevideo and the Cerro de la Victoria, with the highest point, the peak of Cerro de Montevideo, crowned by a fortress, the Fortaleza del Cerro at a height of 134 m (440 ft). Closest cities by road are Las Piedras to the north and the so-called Ciudad de la Costa (a conglomeration of coastal towns) to the east, both in the range of 20 to 25 km (16 mi) from the city center. The approximate distances to the neighbouring department capitals by road are, 90 km (56 mi) to San Jose de Mayo (San Jose Department) and 46 km (29 mi) to Canelones (Canelones Department).
Montevideo enjoys a mild humid subtropical climate (Cfa, according to the Köppen climate classification). The city has cool winters (June to September), hot summers (December to March) and volatile springs (October and November); there are numerous thunderstorms but no tropical cyclones. Rainfall is regular and evenly spread throughout the year, reaching around 950 millimetres (37 in).
Winters are generally wet, windy and overcast, while summers are hot and humid with relatively little wind. In winter there are bursts of icy and relatively dry winds and continental polar air masses, giving an unpleasant chilly feeling to the everyday life of the city. In the summer, a moderate wind often blows from the sea in the evenings which has a pleasant cooling effect on the city, in contrast to the unbearable summer heat of Buenos Aires.
The architecture of Montevideo ranges from Neoclassical buildings such as the Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral to the Postmodern style of the World Trade Center Montevideo or the 158-metre (518 ft) ANTEL Telecommunication Tower, the tallest skyscraper in the country. The Along with the Telecommunications Tower, the Palacio Salvo dominates the skyline of the Bay of Montevideo. The building facades in the Old Town reflect the city's extensive European immigration, displaying the influence of old European architecture. Notable government buildings include the Legislative Palace, the City Hall, Estévez Palace and the Executive Tower. The most notable sports stadium is the Estadio Centenario within Parque Batlle. Parque Batlle, Parque Rodó and Parque Prado are Montevideo's three great parks.
The Pocitos district, near the beach of the same name, has many homes built by Bello and Reboratti between 1920 and 1940, with a mixture of styles. Other landmarks in Pocitos are the "Edificio Panamericano" designed by Raul Sichero, and the "Positano" and "El Pilar" designed by Adolfo Sommer Smith and Luis García Pardo in the 1950s and 1960s. However, the construction boom of the 1970s and 1980s transformed the face of this neighbourhood, with a cluster of modern apartment buildings for upper and upper middle class residents.
The Palacio Legislativo in Aguada, the north of the city centre, is currently the seat of the Uruguayan Parliament. Construction started in 1904 and was sponsored by the government of President José Batlle y Ordóñez. It was designed by Italian architects Vittorio Meano and Gaetano Moretti, who planned the building's interior. Among the notable contributors to the project was sculptor José Belloni, who contributed numerous reliefs and allegorical sculptures.
World Trade Center Montevideo
World Trade Center Montevideo officially opened in 1998, although work is still ongoing as of 2010[update]. The complex is composed of three towers, two three-story buildings called World Trade Center Plaza and World Trade Center Avenue and a large central square called Towers Square. World Trade Center 1 was the first building to be inaugurated, in 1998. It has 22 floors and 17,100 square metres of space. That same year the avenue and the auditorium were raised. World Trade Center 2 was inaugurated in 2002, a twin tower of World Trade Center 1. Finally, in 2009, World Trade Center 3 and the World Trade Center Plaza and the Towers Square were inaugurated. It is located between the avenues Luis Alberto de Herrera and 26 de Marzo and has 19 floors and 27,000 square metres (290,000 sq ft) of space. The 6,300-square-metre (68,000 sq ft) World Trade Center Plaza is designed to be a centre of gastronomy opposite Towers Square and Bonavita St. Among the establishments on the plaza are Burger King, Walrus, Bamboo, Asia de Cuba, Gardenia Mvd, and La Claraboya Cafe.
The Towers Square, is an area of remarkable aesthetic design, intended to be a platform for the development of business activities, art exhibitions, dance and music performances and social place. This square connects the different buildings and towers which comprise the WTC Complex and it is the main access to the complex. The square contains various works of art, notably a sculpture by renowned Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry. World Trade Center 4, with 40 floors and 53,500 square metres (576,000 sq ft) of space is under construction as of 2010[update].
Torre de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Tower) or Torre Antel (Antel Tower) is the 158 metres (518 ft), 37 floor headquarters of Uruguay's government-owned telecommunications company, ANTEL, and is the tallest building in the country. It was designed by architect Carlos Ott. It is situated by the side of the Bay of Montevideo. The tower was completed by American Bridge and other design/build consortium team members on 15 March 2000.
When its construction was announced, many politicians complained about its cost (US$40 million, plus US$25 million for the construction of the other 5 buildings of the Telecommunications Complex). Problems during its construction turned the original US$65 million price into US$102 million.
Ciudad Vieja (Old City)
Ciudad Vieja was the earliest part of the city to be developed and today it constitutes a prominent barrio of southwest Montevideo. It contains many colonial buildings and national heritage sites, but also many banks, administrative offices, museums, art galleries, cultural institutions, restaurants and night-clubs, making it vibrant with life. Its northern coast is the main port of Uruguay, one of the few deep-draft ports in the Southern Cone of South America.
Montevideo's most important plaza is Plaza Independencia, located between Ciudad Vieja and downtown Montevideo. It starts with the Gateway of The Citadel at one end and ends at the beginning of 18 de Julio Avenue. It is the remaining part of the wall that surrounded the oldest part of the city. Several notable buildings are located here.
The Solís Theatre is Uruguay's oldest theatre. It was built in 1856 and is currently owned by the government of Montevideo. In 1998, the government of Montevideo started a major reconstruction of the theatre, which included two US$110,000 columns designed by Philippe Starck. The reconstruction was completed in 2004, and the theatre reopened in August of that year. The plaza is also the site of the offices of the President of Uruguay (both the Estévez Palace and the Executive Tower). The Artigas Mausoleum is located at the centre of the plaza. Statues include that of José Gervasio Artigas, hero of Uruguay's independence movement; an honour guard keeps vigil at the Mausoleum.
Palacio Salvo, at the intersection of 18 de Julio Avenue and Plaza Independencia, was designed by the architect Mario Palanti and completed in 1925. Palanti, an Italian immigrant living in Buenos Aires, used a similar design for his Palacio Barolo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Palacio Salvo stands 100 metres (330 ft) high, including its antenna. It is built on the former site of the Confitería La Giralda, renowned for being where Gerardo Matos Rodríguez wrote his tango "La Cumparsita" (1917.) Palacio Salvo was originally intended to function as a hotel but is now a mixture of offices and private residences.
Also of major note in Ciudad Vieja is the Plaza de la Constitución (or Plaza Matriz). During the first decades of Uruguayan independence this square was the main hub of city life. On the square are the Cabildo—the seat of colonial government—and the Montevideo Metropolitan Cathedral. The cathedral is the burial place of Fructuoso Rivera, Juan Antonio Lavalleja and Venancio Flores. Another notable square is Plaza Zabala with the equestrian statue of Bruno Mauricio de Zabala. On its south side, Palacio Taranco, once residence of the Ortiz Taranco brothers, is now the Museum of Decorative Arts. A few blocks northwest of Plaza Zabala is the Mercado del Puerto, another major tourist destination.
Parque Batlle (formerly: Parque de los Aliados, translation: "Park of the Allies") is a major public central park, located south of Avenida Italia and north of Avenue Rivera. Along with Parque Prado and Parque Rodó it is one of three large parks that dominate Montevideo. The park and surrounding area constitute one of the 62 neighbourhoods (barrios) of the city. The barrio of Parque Batlle is one of seven coastal barrios, the others being Buceo, Carrasco, Malvin, Pocitos, Punta Carretas, and Punta Gorda. The current barrio of Parque Battle includes four former districts: Belgrano, Italiano, Villa Dolores and Batlle Park itself and borders the neighbourhoods of La Blanqueada, Tres Cruces, Pocitos and Buceo. It has a high population density and most of its households are of medium-high- or high-income. Villa Dolores, a subdistrict of Parque Batlle, took its name from the original villa of Don Alejo Rossell y Rius and of Doña Dolores Pereira de Rossel. On their grounds, they started a private collection of animals that became a zoological garden and was passed to the city in 1919; in 1955 the Planetarium of Montevideo was built within its premises.
Parque Batlle is named in honour of José Batlle y Ordóñez, President of Uruguay from 1911 to 1915. The park was originally proposed by an Act of March 1907, which also projected wide boulevards and avenues. French landscape architect, Carlos Thays, began the plantings in 1911. In 1918, the park was named Parque de los Aliados, following the victory of the Allies of World War I. On 5 May 1930, after significant expansion, it was again renamed as Parque Batlle y Ordóñez, in memory of the prominent politician and president, who had died in 1929. The park was designated a National Historic Monument Park in 1975. As of 2010[update], the park covers an area of 60 hectares (150 acres) and is considered the "lung" of the Montevideo city due to the large variety of trees planted here.
In 1934, sculptor José Belloni's "La Carreta", a bronze monument on granite base, was installed on Avenida Lorenzo Merola near Estadio Centenario. One of several statues in the park, it depicts yoked oxen pulling a loaded wagon. It was designated a national monument in 1976. Another statue on the same side of the park is a bronze copy of the Discobolus of Myron.
On the west side of Parque Batlle, on Artigas Boulevard, the 1938 Obelisk of Montevideo is a monument dedicated to those who created the first Constitution. The work of sculptor José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín (1891–1975), it is a three-sided granite obelisk, 40 metres (130 ft) tall, with bronze statues on its three sides, representing "Law", "Liberty", and "Force", respectively. It has been a National Heritage Site since 1976.
Established in 1873, the largest of Montevideo's six main public parks is the 1.06-square-kilometre (260-acre) Parque Prado. Located in the northern part of the city, the Miguelete Creek flows through the park and the neighbourhood and of the same name. It is surrounded by the avenues Agraciada, Obes Lucas, Joaquín Suárez, Luis Alberto de Herrera and by the streets Castro and José María Reyes.
The most frequented areas of the park are the Rosedal, a public rose garden with pergolas, the Botanical Garden, the area around the Hotel del Prado, as well as the Rural del Prado, a seasonal cattle and farm animal fairground. The Rosedal contains four pergolas, eight domes, and a fountain; its 12,000 roses were imported from France in 1910. There are several jogging paths along the Miguelete river.
The Presidential Residence is located behind the Botanical Gardens. Established in 1930, Juan Manuel Blanes Museum is situated in the Palladian villa, a National Heritage Site since 1975, and includes a Japanese garden. The Professor Atilio Lombardo Museum and Botanical Gardens were established in 1902. The National Institute of Physical Climatology and its observatory are also in the Prado.
Parque Rodó is both a barrio (neighbourhood) of Montevideo and a park which lies mostly outside the limits of the neighbourhood itself and belongs to Punta Carretas. The name "Rodó" commemorates José Enrique Rodó, an important Uruguayan writer whose monument is in the southern side of the main park. The park was conceived as a French-style city park. Apart from the main park area which is delimited by Sarmiento Avenue to the south, Parque Rodó includes an amusement park; the Estadio Luis Franzini, belonging to Defensor Sporting; the front lawn of the Faculty of Engineering and a strip west of the Club de Golf de Punta Carretas that includes the Canteras ("quarry") del Parque Rodó, the Teatro de Verano ("summer theatre") and the Lago ("lake") del Parque Rodó.
On the east side of the main park area is the National Museum of Visual Arts. On this side, a very popular street market takes place every Sunday. On the north side is an artificial lake with a little castle housing a municipal library for children. An area to its west is used as an open-air exhibition of photography. West of the park, across the coastal avenue Rambla Presidente Wilson, stretches Ramirez Beach. Directly west of the main park are, and belonging to Parque Rodó barrio, is the former Parque Hotel, now called Edifício Mercosur, seat of the parliament of the members countries of the Mercosur. During the guerilla war the Tupamaros frequently attacked buildings in this area, including the old hotel.
The first set of subsidiary forts were planned by the Portuguese at Montevideo in 1701 to establish a front line base to stop frequent insurrections by the Spaniards emanating from Buenos Aires. These fortifications were planned within the River Plate estuary at Colonia del Sacramento. However, this plan came to fruition only in November 1723, when Captain Manuel Henriques de Noronha reached the shores of Montevideo with soldiers, guns and colonists on his warship Nossa Senhora de Oliveara. They built a small square fortification. However, under siege from forces from Buenos Aires, the Portuguese withdrew from Montevideo Bay in January 1724, after signing an agreement with the Spaniards.
Fortaleza del Cerro (Fortress del Cerro)
Fortaleza del Cerro overlooks the bay of Montevideo. An observation post at this location was first built by the Spanish in the late 18th century. In 1802, a beacon replaced the observation post; construction of the fortress began in 1809 and was completed in 1839. It has been involved in many historical developments and has been repeatedly taken over by various sides. In 1907, the old beacon was replaced with a stronger electric one. It has been a National Monument since 1931 and has housed a military museum since 1916. Today it is one of the tourist attractions of Montevideo.
Punta Brava Lighthouse
Punta Brava Lighthouse (Faro Punta Brava), also known as Punta Carretas Lighthouse, was erected in 1876. The lighthouse is 21 metres (69 ft) high and its light reaches 15 miles (24 km) away, with a flash every ten seconds. In 1962, the lighthouse became electric. The lighthouse is important for guiding boats into the Banco Inglés Buceo Port or the entrance of the Santa Lucía River.
Rambla of Montevideo
The Rambla is an avenue that goes along the entire coastline of Montevideo. The literal meaning of the Spanish word rambla is "avenue" or "watercourse", but in the Americas it is mostly used as "coastal avenue", and since all the southern departments of Uruguay border either the Río de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean, they all have ramblas as well. As an integral part of Montevidean identity, the Rambla has been included by Uruguay in the Indicative List of World Heritage sites, though it has not received this status. Previously, the entire Rambla was called Rambla Naciones Unidas ("United Nations"), but in recent times different names have been given to specific parts of it.
The Rambla is a very important site for recreation and leisure in Montevideo. Every day, a large number of people go there to take long strolls, jog, bicycle, roller skate, fish and even—in a special area—skateboard. Its 27-kilometre (17 mi) length makes it one of the longest esplanades in the world.
Montevideo is noted for its beaches, which are particularly important because 60% of the population spends the summer in the city. Its best known beaches are Ramírez, Pocitos, Carrasco, Buceo and Malvín. Further east and west are other beaches including the Colorada, Punta Espinillo, Punta Yeguas, Zabala and Santa Catarina.
A Cultural Centre of Spain, as well as Asturian and cultural centres, testify to Montevideo's considerable Spanish heritage. Montevideo also has important museums including Museo Torres García, Museo José Gurvich, Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales and Museo Juan Manuel Blanes etc.
The Montevideo Cabildo was the seat of government during the colonial times of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. It is located in front of Constitution Square, in Ciudad Vieja. Built between 1804 and 1869 in Neoclassical style, with a series of Doric and Ionic columns, it became a National Heritage Site in 1975. In 1958, the Municipal Historic Museum and Archive was inaugurated here. It features three permanent city museum exhibitions, as well as temporary art exhibitions, cultural events, seminars, symposiums and forums.
The Palacio Taranco is located in front of the Plaza Zabala, in the heart of Ciudad Vieja. It was erected in the early 20th century as the residence of the Ortiz Taranco brothers on the ruins of Montevideo's first theatre (of 1793), during a period in which the architectural style was influenced by French architecture. The palace was designed by French architects Charles Louis Girault and Jules Chifflot León who also designed the Petit Palais and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It passed to the city from the heirs of the Tarancos in 1943, along with its precious collection of Uruguayan furniture and draperies and was deemed by the city as an ideal place for a museum; in 1972 it became the Museum of Decorative Arts of Montevideo and in 1975 it became a National Heritage Site. The Decorative Arts Museum has an important collection of European paintings and decorative arts, ancient Greek and Roman art and Islamic ceramics of the 10th–18th century from the area of present-day Iran. The palace is often used as a meeting place by the Uruguayan government.
The National History Museum of Montevideo is located in the historical residence of General Fructuoso Rivera. It exhibits artifacts related to the history of Uruguay. In a process begun in 1998, the National Museum of Natural History (1837) and the National Museum of Anthropology (1981), merged in 2001, becoming the National Museum of Natural History and Anthropology. In July 2009, the two institutions again became independent. The Historical Museum has annexed eight historical houses in the city, five of which are located in the Ciudad Vieja. One of them, on the same block with the main building, is the historic residence of Antonio Montero, which houses the Museo Romantico.
The Museo Torres García is located in the Old Town, and exhibits Joaquín Torres García's unusual portraits of historical icons and cubist paintings akin to those of Picasso and Braque. The museum was established by Manolita Piña Torres, the widow of Torres Garcia, after his death in 1949. She also set up the García Torres Foundation, a private non-profit organization that organizes the paintings, drawings, original writings, archives, objects and furniture designed by the painter as well as the photographs, magazines and publications related to him.
There are several other important art museums in Montevideo. The National Museum of Visual Arts in Parque Rodó has Uruguay's largest collection of paintings. The Juan Manuel Blanes Museum was founded in 1930, the 100th anniversary of the first Constitution of Uruguay, significant with regard to the fact that Juan Manuel Blanes painted Uruguayan patriotic themes. In back of the museum is a beautiful Japanese Garden with a pond where there are over a hundred carp. The Museo de Historia del Arte, located in the Palacio Municipal, features replicas of ancient monuments and exhibits a varied collection of artifacts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome and Native American cultures including local finds of the pre-Columbian period. The Museo Municipal Precolombino y Colonial, in the Ciudad Vieja, has preserved collections of the archaeological finds from excavations carried out by Uruguayan archaeologist Antonio Taddei. These antiquaries are exhibits of pre-Columbian art of Latin America, painting and sculpture from the 17th and 18th century mostly from Mexico, Peru and Brazil. The Museo de Arte Contempo has small but impressive exhibits of modern Uruguayan painting and sculpture.
There are also other types of museums in the city. The Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda, located in the Centro, has distinctive displays of the historical culture of Uruguay's gauchos, their horse gear, silver work and mate (tea), gourds, and bombillas (drinking straws) in odd designs. The Museo Naval, is located on the eastern waterfront in Buceo and offers exhibits depicting the maritime history of Uruguay. The Museo del Automóvil, belonging to the Automobile Club of Uruguay, has a rich collection of vintage cars which includes a 1910 Hupmobile. The Museo y Parque Fernando García in Carrasco, a transport and automobile museum, includes old horse carriages and some early automobiles. The Castillo Pittamiglio, with an unusual façade, highlights the eccentric legacy of Humberto Pittamiglio, local alchemist and architect.
As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is home to a number of festivals and carnivals including a Gaucho festival when people ride through the streets on horseback in traditional gaucho gear. The major annual festival is the annual Montevideo Carnaval which is part of the national festival of Carnival Week, celebrated throughout Uruguay, with central activities in the capital, Montevideo. Officially, the public holiday lasts for two days on Carnival Monday and Shrove Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, but due to the prominence of the festival, most shops and businesses close for the entire week. During carnival there are many open-air stage performances and competitions and the streets and houses are vibrantly decorated. "Tablados" or popular scenes, both fixed and movable, are erected in the whole city. Notable displays include "Desfile de las Llamadas" ("Parade of the Calls"), which is a grand united parade held on the south part of downtown, where it used to be a common ritual back in the early 20th century. Due to the scale of the festival, preparation begins as early as December with an election of the "zonal beauty queens" to appear in the carnival.
Economy and infrastructure
As the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is the economic and political centre of the country. Most of the largest and wealthiest businesses in Uruguay have their headquarters in the city. Since the 1990s the city has undergone rapid economic development and modernization, including two of Uruguay's most important buildings—the World Trade Center Montevideo (1998), and Telecommunications Tower (2000), the headquarters of Uruguay's government-owned telecommunications company ANTEL, increasing the city's integration into the global marketplace.
The Port of Montevideo, in the northern part of Ciudad Vieja, is one of the major ports of South America and plays a very important role in the city's economy. The port has been growing rapidly and consistently at an average annual rate of 14 percent due to an increase in foreign trade. The city has received a US$20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to modernize the port, increase its size and efficiency, and enable lower maritime and river transportation costs.
The most important state-owned companies headquartered in Montevideo are: AFE (railways), ANCAP (Energy), Administracion Nacional de Puertos (Ports), ANTEL (telecommunications), BHU (savings and loan), BROU (bank), BSE (insurance), OSE (water & sewage), UTE (electricity). These companies operate under public law, using a legal entity defined in the Uruguayan Constitution called Ente Autonomo ("autonomous entity"). The government also owns part of other companies operating under private law, such as those owned wholly or partially by the CND (National Development Corporation).
Banking has traditionally been one of the strongest service export sectors in Uruguay: the country was once dubbed "the Switzerland of America", mainly for its banking sector and stability, although that stability has been threatened in the 21st century by the recent global economic climate. The largest bank in Uruguay is Banco Republica (BROU), based in Montevideo. Almost 20 private banks, most of them branches of international banks, operate in the country (Banco Santander, ABN AMRO, Citibank, among others). There are also a myriad of brokers and financial-services bureaus, among them Ficus Capital, Galfin Sociedad de Bolsa, Europa Sociedad de Bolsa, Darío Cukier, GBU, Hordeñana & Asociados Sociedad de Bolsa, etc.
Tourism accounts for much of Uruguay's economy. Tourism in Montevideo is centered in the Ciudad Vieja area, which includes the city's oldest buildings, several museums, art galleries, and nightclubs, with Sarandí Street and the Mercado del Puerto being the most frequented venues of the old city. On the edge of Ciudad Vieja, Plaza Independencia is surrounded by many sights, including the Solís Theatre and the Palacio Salvo; the plaza also constitutes one end of 18 de Julio Avenue, the city's most important tourist destination outside of Ciudad Vieja. Apart from being a shopping street, the avenue is noted for its Art Deco buildings, three important public squares, the Gaucho Museum, the Palacio Municipal and many other sights. The avenue leads to the Obelisk of Montevideo; beyond that is Parque Batlle, which along with the Parque Prado is another important tourist destination. Along the coast, the Fortaleza del Cerro, the Rambla (the coastal avenue), 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) of sandy beaches, and Punta Gorda attract many tourists, as do the Barrio Sur and Palermo barrios.
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The writer Eduardo Galeano.
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