MONTEVIDEO – Few skyscrapers stand out on the Montevideo skyline – one sail-shaped tower and the tall buildings of the World Trade Center (WTC) are about all there are – which gives the sights from the highest points an almost total view of Uruguay’s capital and the immense River Plate.
“The skyscraper is a cement giraffe whose skin is spotted with windows” was the description composed by poet Alfredo Mario Ferreiro (1899-1959) of the 95-meter-tall (310-foot-tall) Palacio Salvo.
From its cupola can be seen the 30-ton equestrian statue some 17 meters (55 feet) tall of the hero of Uruguayan independence, Jose Gervasio Artigas, as well as the Old Town peninsula.
Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott designed the Antel Tower, headquarters of Uruguay’s state telecom company – the country’s tallest building – in the form of a sail in order to “stop the winds of the area,” construction worker Carlos Delgado told EFE.
Its peculiar form plays with the view from the 126-meter (413-foot) height of the 25th floor, where tourists at some places feel they are in the narrow prow of a ship and at others in a vessel’s wide stern.
The 40th floor of WTC Tower 4 is the highest one can find in Montevideo, since despite the fact that Antel Tower is a few meters taller, it only has 26 floors.
According to what one of the architects responsible for the project, Ernesto Kimelman, told EFE, constructing this 125-meter (410-foot) landmark in a city where the average building is some 30 meters (98 feet) tall was the result of long negotiations with city authorities.
The green of Centenary Stadium contrasts with the grey and white of the buildings and the blue of the River Plate from the 100-meter (328-foot) height of Homenajes Tower.
Architect Juan Antonio Scasso had the idea of crowning the sports center with a lookout point after seeing a similar stadium in the Netherlands, though he chose to fill it with symbolism.
Atop the WTC Tower 1 Free Trade Zone, as in any heliport, there is an enormous yellow bullseye and no railing exists to interrupt the 360-degree view.
Architect Kimelman told EFE that this building was “built with an eye to the future,” since it has not been used much because it is only suitable for two-engine helicopters – a model not very popular in the region – and the economic crises of the neighboring countries has affected the volume of air traffic.
Every afternoon a number of curiosity seekers tend to visit Plaza de la Armada, on a hill at one end of the interminable Montevideo Rambla, to watch how the pink, orange and violet shades of the setting sun darken amid the buildings of the Pocitos and Punta Carretas neighborhoods, while they drink their mate brew.
Added to the palette of sunset colors is the bright red of aloe vera flowers dotting this green hill.
An impressive feature of the plaza is the Monument to the Fallen, a magnificent sculpture by Spanish artist Eduardo Diaz Yepes, who went on to become one of the founders of the Vallecas School upon emigrating to Uruguay as the son-in-law of Joaquin Torres-Garcia, creator of the Constructive Universalism theory of art.
It is not by chance that Cerro de Montevideo, the highest hill in the capital at over 130 (425 feet) meters above sea level, was the place that the colonists chose build a fort.
From its hilltop, one gets the feeling that the southernmost capital of the Americas is a miniature model ready to be visited by colorful toy ships.
At the foot of the fort there is also an enormous panel with the word “Montevideo” on it, the perfect place for taking the coveted selfie.