Uruguayan murga is something unique and over the last few decades has transformed into a cultural manifestation that has attracted followers from all over the world.
Murga is one of the most popular Uruguayan forms of cultural expression in terms of its popularity here. Despite being a cultural manifestation originally from Cadiz, Spain (primarily since 1908), Uruguayan murga has gone through numerous transformations since the end of the 19th century.
Murgas have always expressed themselves through a variety of musical formats but chief among them is the Marcha Camión style similar to that of the marching percussion and Candombe.
Costume design and makeup in murga draw some of their influence from similar European artistic expressions.
Uruguayan murga is made up of 17 units: a scene and chorus director, 13 singers in the chorus divided by their vocal range, and 3 members making up the percussion section which is split up into cymbals, bass drum and snare drum.
Over the last few decades this structure has begun to change. The “Murgas Jovenes” or younger murga groups are also beginning to adapt their style from the traditional structure in the same way other kinds of murga groups added elements of creativity and innovation over the years, making murga what it is today.
Murgas take place in what we call tablados where they can be public or private. Whether in Montevideo or anywhere outside the capital, murgas always bring a refreshing humorous, satirical and critical view on current events, expressed through this traditional theatrical format with song, costume and vibrant makeup.
Carnaval was born in the everyday neighborhoods where each group has its home fans for support, be it in the tablado, the parades or in official competitions with qualified judges and prizes. Murga rehearsals are often public where friends and family can come and memorize the group’s repertoire. Murga is without a doubt one of the most popular forms of expression par excellence.
In Montevideo, the Murga Museum is open all year round where visitors can learn about the history of this traditional festivity. Those who arrive out of Carnaval season can still be captivated by the long and interesting history explored in the museum.
Uruguay has been exporting amaizing soccer talent for some time now, from Diego Forlán and Luis Suárez, to Edison Cavani. Soccer is without a doubt, the Uruguayan people's greatest passion.
Soccer is the passion of the Uruguayan people. For Uruguay, considering how small our country is, every international victory is an achievement. Incredibly, over the years Uruguay has reached the olympic podium in cycling, boxing, basketball, soccer and rowing. In other sports achievements have been made at a regional level. However, soccer above anything is more than just a sport and whilst the Uruguayan people love to watch matches, above all they love to play.
It’s common to hear a Uruguayan say that we have the same number of football managers as inhabitants in the country. This phrase demonstrates how much the sport really means to us. It’s safe to say that sporting events, whether world cups or olympics, won years ago, have brought us together as a nation. Soccer aphorisms are part of our everyday speech just as much on the street as in more formal environments. Since its beginnings, the national team has been one of the best. Gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 olympics and winners of the world cup in 1930 and 1950 were our grandest moments that will forever be remembered in Uruguayan soccer history. On top of that we can’t forget all the achievements teams from our national league have made, in particular the two most distinguised teams, Peñarol and Nacional. Soccer lovers must not miss a visit the Soccer Museum where visitors can see all sorts of soccer paraphernalia from over the years.
Over the las 25 years, Uruguayan Cinema has really taken off with award winning films like Wisky and El Baño del Papa.
Uruguayan cinema has more than a century of history. Louis Lumière’s invention made it to Uruguay early, and by 1898 Uruguay had already developed its first documentary film: a bicycle race in the Arroyo Seco racetrack by Felix Oliver. Unfortunately however, the next 100 years would be marked by a lack of resources and intermittent projects.
Despite the odds, Uruguayan cinema has begun to recover, reaching its peak in the last 25 years with national productions being celebrated in film festivals around the world. Likewise, the country has started offering sevices to foreign productions filming within the country, particularly in areas such as publicity, documentary films and feature length films.
Feature films like 25 Watts (2001) were a big boost to the cinematic scene in Uruguay after it received 10 international prizes including Best Film in the Rotterdam International Film Festival and Best Opera Prima in the Havana Film Festival. Since then, Uruguayan films have been winning international prizes year after year.
For those interested in learning more about the evolution of Uruguayan Cinematic Production in the last decades, The Uruguayan Film Commission & Promotion Office provides quality reading material on both national narrative and documentary productions. Here you can also find a piece dedicated to the promotion of the excellent locations Uruguay has to offer for filming.
Mate is the inseparable companion of Uruguayans and a warm welcoming gesture for those just arriving. The yerba based tea infusion is a stimulant.
Mate is the inseparable companion of Uruguayans and a warm welcoming gesture for those just arriving. The yerba based tea infusion is a stimulant.
Mate is a drink made by infusing “yerba mate” (dehydrated and shredded leaves of the Illex Paraguyensis shrub) and is one of the more emblematic and common traditions of Uruguayan society.
The custom of using a thermos instead of a kettle to prepare the infusion was a Uruguayan initiative allowing the ritual to move beyond the confines of home. This way, as it is today, mate could be enjoyed in almost any public space and this has now become very illustrative of the quotidian Uruguayan lifestyle.
Surely, anybody who has ever seen Uruguayans outside of the country will have noticed that they were not without their thermos and mate, inseparable companions no matter the time of year.
The origins of this drink can be traced back to precolonial times in indigenous Guarani culture. Since the 17th century, while tea culture predominated Europe, in South America, mate was spreading. Originally, mate was the companion of the lonely cattle rancher. Wild, bitter and green it would be the faithful companion in times of solitude as well as times of joy. As time passed, mate would make it to the cities where today drinking mate is an everyday sight all over our country as well as in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
Depending on the time and place or with whom we’re drinking with, mate takes on different meanings. It could be to quell an appetite, or just to kill some time. Mate follows the students with their studies and accompanies reunions with family and friends or work mates. It holds an element of communion and a is a symbol of warm welcome to greet visitors with. Mate is usually shared and it’s custom to use the same gourd and the same bombilla, passing the warm tea on from one person to the next, which may very well separate this stimulating warm drink from other infusions like tea or coffee.
Mate has a stimulating effect on the body due to its caffeine content, making it a particularly invigorating drink while at the same time acting as a diuretic and vasodilator. The yerba mate tea also contains high levels of vitamin A.
The grill or parrilla is the most distinguished menu in the Uruguayan diet par excellence. Eaten with a glass of Tannat, it is an experience not to be missed.
With worldwide recognition, the parrilla is, without doubt, the most recognized menu in the Uruguayan diet. It’s made up of different cuts of beef, grilled on what is known as a parrilla— an iron grill construction made specifically for cooking. The age old secret to this cooking technique is that it allows the juices in whatever is being grilled to remain in the meat, thus preserving the individual flavors and characteristics.
Uruguayan wines are ideal for pairing with exquisite grilled cuts of beef. Amongst the many wines available in Uruguay, Tannat often stands out as the wine of choice. Often defined as intense and bold, this variety of grape is originally from the south east of France and was introduced to Uruguay around the 19th century. Since then it has had much success in Uruguay where it has been produced to worldwide recognition.
The dairy industry has been very developed in Uruguay for a long time and it’s because of this that you can find dairy products of excellent quality. Of the most celebrated dairy products in Uruguay, dulce de leche is often the first mentioned. This sweet, caramel-like spread, adored by children and adults alike is often used in a variety of desserts, making it the most important ingredient for sweets in Uruguay. Visitors who get to try this sensational spread will find its smooth and creamy attributes hard to forget; these are the characteristics that make dulce de leche unique and distinct from other similar spreads elsewhere in the world.
Uruguay is ideal for organizing congresses, conferences, and incentive trips, not only in the capital, but also in other tourist-friendly cities like Colonia and Punta del Este. Uruguayan cities have the advantage of having “everything” close by which is particularly helpful for people arriving with a tight work schedule.
Uruguay is a great place to come for business tourism because it’s a safe place to be where exceptional services are offered by professionals. During 2014, 39 international congresses were held, along with 60 regional and 146 national events. The growth of business tourism in Uruguay is not an accident: Uruguay offers many training support programs and also 0% VAT on international business events.
Many diverse and prestigious organizations have chosen Uruguay to hold their events. The World Congress of ICCA (2005), COP4's Fourth Conference (2010), the Fifth World Prenatal Medicine Congress (2011), the 102nd Inter American Development Bank Government Assembly Reunion, the 22nd International Symposium on Metal Ions in Biology and Medicine (2013), and the 30th Inter American Accounting Conference (2013) are just some of the events which have taken place here in the last few years.
Recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage, Candombe seduces foreign visitors with its peculiar sound produced by three drums; chico, repique, and piano. During the yearly Las Llamadas parade, where you can hear more than 2,000 drums being played in unison as groups make their way through the neighborhood. This is something you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the world.
The Negros and Lubolos societies otherwise known as Comparsas in Candombe, are the heirs to a tradition that comes from what was called Salsa de Nación during the Colonial years in Uruguay. It was through the drum that slaves from Africa were able to pass on their heritage and values of a rich culture that gave birth to the tambor.
The tambor, also known as the drum, is the essence of the Comparsa. The rhythm of Candombe comes from the cuerda— a group formed of three types of drum: piano, repique, and chico. The drum is played by beating the drumhead or drum skin with an open hand and a drum stick which is also used to strike the body of the drum. The drum is hung from one shoulder with a drum strap so the drummer is able to walk while playing.
Ahead of the drummers, and groups can include up to seventy drummers at a time, are the rest of the members of the Comparsa, all outfitted with traditional clothing. The Desfile de Llamadas takes its name from La Llamada del Tambor or, “The Call of the Drum” that Afro-Uruguayans would use as a sort of call to come together to meet extramuros.As of the late 19th century it was also used in different collectivized cooperatives known as conventillos, as well as in different neighborhoods in Montevideo.
Leading each group is its insignia, held by a flag bearer. This symbolizes the emblem of the Tribe or ethnic group amongst other symbolic elements like stars and half moons. Afterwards, the dancing section follows made up of ancestral characters. The gramillero represents the witch doctor of the tribe; often dressed up in a frock coat, top hat, a cane, and glasses,usually with a long white beard and carrying a suitcase full of healing herbs. Next to the gramillero is the Mama Vieja, traditionally dressed in brightly colored clothes and holding a fan and parasol. The Mama Vieja dances slowly and almost flirtatiously with the Gramillero. The Escobero originally would guide the drummers during the march using his cane. Today the Escobero dances with a small broom following the rhythm of the group. And finally, behind the flag bearer and before the drummers are the vedettes; dancers that add a sensual element evoking the ritual.
There are those who say that fall is the best season in which to visit Punta del Este. Everything is quiet and the sound of the ocean envelops the city. The temperature is perfect to go on hikes and tours, such as a visit to the Parque de Esculturas (Sculpture Park) of the Pablo Atchugarry Art Foundation. Home to 25-hectares of natural scenery, visitors can see the artwork interact with the equally beautiful landscape. At the end of the day, the sun setting behind the sculptures is a view to remember.
Another autumn classic is the Lussich Arboretum, an artificial forest reserve with the highest diversity of imported species globally. The park measures around 192 hectares and is home to more than 400 exotic species from around the world and about 60 indigenous Uruguayan tree species. The arboretum was founded towards the end of the 19th century by the owner of a sea rescue company who started to plant seeds and roots from all the continents he had visited.
Breathe in the ocean breeze filtered through lush greenery and hear the birds singing. This is certainly a must-do for visitors coming to Punta Ballena.
This is a place to enjoy nature without having to leave town. It has many recreational services such as a pool, a sports area, playgrounds, basketball courts, volleyball courts, football fields, paddle courts, a track, and the Matías González Stadium.
It is located by the shore of the Cuareim River, right in the middle of the city, accessible via Ansina Street and Héctor Vasconcellos Street, or by President Berreta Street and 18 de julio Street.
The Municipal Matías González Stadium is a tribute to the man of the same name who played for the Uruguayan football team in the 1950 World Cup and was originally from Artigas. Right next door, also on the Cuareim River shore is the Balneario Municipal (Municipal Resort). Other attractions for visitors are the illuminated fountain and the Concordia Bridge.
In the department of Salto, in the geothermal water region of the Daymán, is Acuamanía, South America's first thermal water park. Its design and construction were overseen by the same companies that designed the Disney water parks. The grounds measure 15,000 square meters designed specifically for fun, relaxation and comfort.
The park's services are available to all audiences from 10am to 6pm every day except Wednesdays. There is no charge for children under 3 years old.
Professional lifeguards on every pool and ride
First aid and specialized safety personnel
Changing rooms with toilets and showers
Food court and other stores
Salto Grande Termas Water Park
Las instalaciones del Parque están habilitadas para todo público los 365 días del año de 10:00 a 20:00 hrs. de lunes a viernes y de 10:00 a 22:00 hrs. los sábados y domingos. Para los menores hasta 11 años abonan tarifa menor, y los menores hasta 4 años tienen libre acceso. Cuenta con parking y modernos y amplios vestuarios.
The park's services are available for all audiences and it remains open every day of the year from 10am to 8pm Monday through Friday and from 10am to 10pm on weekends. Children under 11 years old pay a reduced fare and there is no charge for children under 4. There is parking space, and modern changing rooms.
Professional lifeguards that watch over all pools
First aid and specialized personnel
Locker rooms with toilets and showers
Food court area and other stores