The lighthouse at Colonia

2015-10-03T23:30:03+00:005 December 2012|Borders, Travel photos, UNESCO World Heritage, Uruguay|

Colonia lighthouse

I spent most of my very first day in Argentina… in Uruguay.

That’s right. One May morning many years ago, I arrived in Buenos Aires. A very early May morning it was. I found a hotel, deposited my pack and was back out on the streets before 6 am, looking forward to watch a new city wake up. In Buenos Aires, however, the locals took their time. It must have been near 11 o’clock by the time the porteños were out and about. But it happened quickly. From zero to thousands of busy bees in a matter of minutes.

Walking away from the city centre, I suddenly found myself at the port. And practically before I knew it, I went through passport control for the second time that morning (Argentina and Uruguay sat at adjacent, rickety tables in the ferry terminal – easiest and friendliest border crossing ever) and was on my way across the river to another country. To Colonia.

Colonia is a former Portuguese colony at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. The town was strategically important in the battle against the Spanish, and passed back and forth between Spanish and Portuguese hands for a few centuries. Today, Colonia is the oldest town in Uruguay and the city’s historic quarter was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1995, because it

bears remarkable testimony in its layout and its buildings to the nature and objectives of European colonial settlement, in particular during the seminal period at the end of the 17th century.

I adored ambling about the cobbled streets of this sleepy little town, such a different feel from the big city across the river. Colonia has pretty beaches, a sweet, compact little town centre, with quirky artisans’ shops (I still have gardening equipment I bought from Almacen La Carlota – wonder if the shop is still there), …

…colourful little cafés, indoors –


… and out
Colonia cafe

And the lighthouse. Wherever I walked, I always saw Colonia lighthouse, a beacon and ever-present guide, for sailors throughout centuries – and for this jetlagged Scandinavian.

When I landed in Buenos Aires that morning, I didn’t know this little treasure of a town existed. By nightfall I was sad to leave. Next time, I’ll stay the night.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I love lighthouses. I’ve even slept in one. But that’s a story for another time. How about you?

Do you like lighthouses? Where is your favourite one?

unesco logo

The Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

About the Author:


  1. ItalianNotes 5 December 2012 at 1640 - Reply

    I’m totally fascinated by lighthouses – both literally and metaphorically – and I’d love to visit one in Argentina.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1056 - Reply

      Lots of great ones in Denmark too, Mette 🙂

  2. Leigh 5 December 2012 at 1756 - Reply

    I love lighthouses too. There was a beautiful one that a family lived in for years on an island in Lake Superior – a lake known for its’ killing storms – so I can only imagine what that family witnessed over the years.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1057 - Reply

      I’d love to live in a lighthouse for an extended period.

  3. Ana O 5 December 2012 at 2032 - Reply

    I was there about 3 weeks ago!!! Did you climb up to the top? We did and I got cramps on my legs on the way down 🙂
    Colonia is such a lovely little town. I absolutely adored it.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1057 - Reply

      No, I didn’t. Wasn’t aware it was possible. I’ll do better next time 🙂

  4. Muza-chan 6 December 2012 at 1616 - Reply

    Very beautiful, I like lighthouses too…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1058 - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Muza-chan 🙂

  5. Andrea 7 December 2012 at 2317 - Reply

    I adore Uruguay – one of my S American favs!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1059 - Reply

      One doesn’t really hear much about Uruguay. I’m curious to see more of the country.

  6. Stephanie - The Travel Chica 8 December 2012 at 2151 - Reply

    I enjoyed the cobblestone streets and bright colors in Colonia.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1059 - Reply

      Glad to hear it, Stephanie.

  7. Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home 10 December 2012 at 0543 - Reply

    One lighthouse which got stuck in my mind is one from Netherlands. Not sure why. Maybe because I was not alone and me and my friend were cycling for quite a long time until we got there. Or maybe because I had very positive feelings in that day and I associate the emotions I had with the image of the ligthouse… Who knows? 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1100 - Reply

      It makes a big difference to how we remember a place, I think, the feelings we have at the time and the people we’re with.

  8. Melinda 10 December 2012 at 1611 - Reply

    Such a beautiful picture! I really like lighthouses… A friend of mine, who is a photographer, and his hobby is to shoot lighthouses around the world. If I’ll find it I’m going to share his stunning gallery;)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1101 - Reply

      Would like to see it, Melinda.

  9. Bill Weston 10 December 2012 at 2204 - Reply

    What a beautiful lighthouse it is, too. It’s funny the places you end up when you don’t mean to. An intended visit to Newport once left me wandering the countryside of Virginia amongst stately old manors I had never even thought to see but I’ll always cherish the memory of.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 15 December 2012 at 1101 - Reply

      Know what you mean. Love surprises like that.

  10. Andrew Graeme Gould 17 December 2012 at 1713 - Reply

    Many years ago, we crossed the sea-Iike river from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, and found the Iatter charming enough, but I didn’t know of CoIonia before reading this interesting post of yours, Sophie. We do plan to return, and this time, Colonia’s on the Iist, for sure.

    And yes, I’m fascinated by lighthouses. My favourite is the aIways the one I’m standing in front of at the particular moment!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 17 December 2012 at 1728 - Reply


  11. Cathy Sweeney 18 December 2012 at 1805 - Reply

    What a nice surprise, this little town and lighthouse. I wouldn’t have expected it so close to BA. Would love to spend a little time in one of those colorful cafes.

Leave A Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.