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Visting the Hotel Colón, Piriápolis, Uruguay: Dating From 1910, Neo-Renaissance Style in a Flourishing Republic

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Flag of Uruguay

View of Piriápolis, from the top of Cerro San Antonio, Maldonado Department, Uruguay.

View of Piriápolis, from the top of Cerro San Antonio, Maldonado Department, Uruguay.

Of interest

Suggestive of a gracious age in a confident Latin American republic

This hub is mainly limited to some historical aspects of this heritage building. For any aspect of the services of this fine hotel, contact should be made directly with its management.

Dating from 1910, this outstanding example of Neo-Renaissance architectural style, was designed originally as Arturo Piria's private dwelling: Arturo Piria was son of his more famous father don Francisco Piria, founder and developer of the city of Piriápolis, in Uruguay's Maldonado Department.

Subsequently the property passed to Matilde Anchorena Verstraeten (1875-1969), member of a distinguished Argentinian family whose properties became prominent in the national life of Argentina and Uruguay (1)(2).

When later acquired by Fabiana Barzola, the building was turned into a hotel, at first called Hotel Brisas del Mar ('Sea Breezes'), later changed to Hotel Colón in 1937.

Among the crowning features of the property is its octagonal tower which supplies a conspicuous profile to the Rambla de los Argentinos on which it is situated, at No. 950. Other Hotels in Piriápolis are more well-known (not least the Hotel Argentino, especially because of its sheer size), but the Hotel Colón, more intimate in its dimensions but also more elaborate in its historicist design approach, was undoubtedly set to contribute to Uruguayan architectural heritage at a time in its history when the Republic was emerging from a long civil war period and experiencing an era of relative prosperity and peace. A particularly impressive view of Piriápolis can be obtained from a nearby hill called Cerro San Antonio, and, despite being a comparatively small building, the Hotel Colón remains conspicuous not least because of the reddish hue of the prominent tiles used on the structure's roofing. (I have supplied a photo, above, of Piriápolis viewed from Cerro San Antonio, in which the Hotel Colón's reddish roofing can be seen to the right of the picture.)

Hotel Colón: where allusions to Medieval impregnability, to gracious, Renaissance living and to the intense promise of Art Nouveau in the pre-World War One era come together triumphantly. A corner of Uruguay, recalling the French Riviera, offering a radiant synthesis of eclecticism.

September 25, 2015

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(1) A younger brother of Matilde Anchorena was Aarón Anchorena (1877-1965) whose Uruguayan property Parque Anchorena, bequeathed to the nation in 1965, is now the President of Uruguay's official country residence, situated in Colonia Department. (Interestingly, this Presidential residence shares a broadly similar neo-Renaissance style with the Hotel Colón, with prominent wood panels in the manner of neo-Tudor styling at its principal elevation.) In Buenos Aires, another former family property, the Palacio Anchorena, is today the seat of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Republic of Argentina.

(2) See also (in Spanish):

Map location of Maldonado department, Uruguay

Map location of Maldonado department, Uruguay

Also worth seeing

Piriápolis is a resort on the River Plate (Spanish: Río de la Plata ) Estuary, founded by Francisco Piria, which over the years has been particularly popular with Argentinians. In fact, the name of its largest hotel is Argentino Hotel , beside which a bust of don Francisco Piria stands. The Castle (Spanish: Castillo) is also named for him.


How to get there: LaTam flies to Montevideo , Uruguay from North American destinations including New York and Toronto . Car rental is available at Montevideo Carrasco International airport. Mainly seasonal flights from Buenos Aires also operate to Laguna del Sauce International Airport, which principally serves the nearby Uruguayan resort of Punta del Este . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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