Population: 443.700 hab.
Area: 4.532 km2
Population Density: 97,6 inhab./km2
Canelones is noteworthy for being, after Montevideo, the country’s most populous department and one of the most strategic from a geopolitical perspective. Located in the south of the country, it is the communication bridge between the capital and the countryside, in addition to receiving foreign visitors at Carrasco International Airport.
It has an area of over 4.500 m2 and a population in excess of 520,000 people. Its territory, slightly undulating and full of plains, has a number of rivers from the Santa Lucía River Basin, a rich source of drinking water for the entire south of the country, which then feed into the shores of Río de la Plata.
There are also some large lakes, ponds or reservoirs and wells dug to store water during winter for summer irrigation. Canelones is also a key department when it comes to understanding the history of the country.
According to the instructions given by General José Gervasio Artigas in 1816, Canelones would constitute one of the six jurisdictions into which the Oriental Province would be divided. Its capital, founded on June 10, 1782 with the name “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe” (Our Lady of Guadalupe), would also host the first local government in 1813.
Source: Municipality of Canelones
In Atlantida for the first time
Reminiscent of an Canelones vacation spot from years ago, and sometimes called the tourism capital of the department, Atlantida is located in the “Costa de Oro” resort area, which lies on the Interbalnearia Route “Liber Seregni”, about 45 kilometers away from the national capital.
The town was founded in 1911 – officially becoming a city in 1967 – making it one of the oldest resort towns in Uruguay. It boasts heavy vegetation of native and foreign species over hills of stunning beauty, and quaint houses in front of the sea.
1) Plaza de los fundadores (Founding father’s square)
The square was designed by the architect Juan Jose Casal (1931-2008) and inaugurated in 1971 as a monument to the town’s forefathers, who dreamed of a great resort town over a century ago. In 1911, entrepreneurs, medical students and doctors founded the Territorial Uruguaya S.A. Society, and began development and plot division of pieces of land purchased for later sale. The center of the square holds a fountain made out of concrete plaques, each level representing different names the area has held during its history: Ensenada Santa Rosa, Las Toscas beach, the “Doctors’ Resort”, and, finally, Atlántida.
During the Centennial celebrations in the city, another monument containing a stainless steel, hermetically closed Time Capsule was erected, where messages written by scholars are kept, along with historical photographs and current documents that constitute a valuable legacy for upcoming generations. The capsule will be opened after 50 years, in the year 2061. Address: Gral. Artigas Avenue by República del Paraguay Street.
2) Historic remains
Entering from the Tomas Berreta Rambla (Ocean-side avenue), between Roger Balet Street and República del Paraguay Street, visitors can visit the old section of the town, a tourist and cultural circuit centered on the historical ocean avenue of the town. The first constructions date back to 1912.
Common elements in these buildings are Normandy-style tiled roofs, a mid-point arch in windows made of brick or lintel rock, and old gardens exhibiting statues and fountains, all of which were popular at the time. The tour takes us back to the beginning of the 20th century in Uruguay, walking through araucaria and palm-tree-lined paths and splendid mansions that recreate the European Belle Epoque.
Address: Tomas Berreta Rambla between Roger Balet Street and Diagonal Sur Street.
3) “El Planeta” building
If one continues on the Tomas Berreta Rambla, we find the “El Planeta” building, declared a National Historical Monument in 2005. Its owner was Natalio Michelizzo (1896-1953), an Italian businessman living in Argentina, and he was the driving force behind various projects in Atlántida, such as its first Casino, and the restoration of what was, as the time, the largest golf course in South America.
El Planeta was inaugurated as a luxury hotel in 1937 under the name of “Planeta Palace”, and hosted Argentinean celebrities of the time, such as Luis Sandrini, Mirtha Legrand, Hugo del Carril, and Zully Moreno, among others. The building is four stories plus a ground floor and basement. A brightly-lit double Carrara marble staircase connects the first floor with higher stories.
Address: Rambla by 22nd Street.
4) El Águila (The Eagle)
If one wishes to continue the tour to the resort town of Villa Argentina, you will eventually run into the “Eagle” lookout, originally conceived by the visionary Natalio Michelizzi. It was originally named “La Quimera” (the chimera) and its exact construction dates are still disputed. Some testimonies pinpoint the lookout’s construction to 1945, during the months following the end of the Second World War.
Other versions claim it was built before, shortly after the “El Barranco” house, also a Michelizzi property, was finished, during the feverish and tense political environment the world went through before the war. In the late 30s, the Italian businessman asked for local constructor Juan Torres’s help while building a house in Villa Argentina called “El Barranco.”
Later, in the house’s grounds, the constructor built (at his boss’ instruction) a small room with a hipped roof unaided by any blueprint. Over this construction, Torres built a second story in the shape of an eagle’s head. Finally, Torres built a third story, a lookout that resembles a ship’s bow, rounded off with the head of a swordfish or dolphin. The building was located in a forest clearing and could only be accessed by the owner’s inner circle, which added to the many urban legends that surround the place, since its original purpose remains a mystery.
The “Eagle” was abandoned for years, until it was restored and reopened in 2003.
Address: 1st by 3rd Streets, Villa Argentina (KM 44 of the Interbalnearia Route).
Available bus lines from Montevideo: 710, 222, C4 (Parque del Plata), 711 (La Floresta), 713 (Santa Ana or Jaureguiberry).
5) Cristo Obrero Parrish
Another stop while touring the town is the Church of Christ the Worker, declared a National Monument and American Heritage site. It was built by engineer Eadio Dieste (1917-2000) between the months of March 1958 and July 1960. Dieste’s work is distinguishable by domed constructions, curved surfaces, the use of reinforced ceramics, brick plates, steel frames, and minimal cement.
The Christ the Worker has surprising round, brick walls that hold up the main dome without any columns. Inside, it is dimly lit by natural light, and a mystical ambiance invites visitors to contemplate the figure of Christ whittled in wood by Eduardo Díaz Yepes (1910-1978), which holds a privileged place in this holy space.
Location: Estación Atlántida, Route 11, KM 156.
Bus lines from Montevideo: C5 (Estación Atlántida), 710 ( Estación Atlántida)
Bus lines from Atlántida: Satt Bus (Estación Atlántida), 754 (Pando) Zeballos Bus (Santa Lucía or Canelones).
Duration: 2 hours
Seasons: spring, summer, autumn
Target audience: individuals, families, couples, and groups
Surfing in Canelones
Clean sand coasts with small coves rounded off by rocky points, surrounded by the Río de la Plata.
From the Pando river mouth to the Solis Stream, breaking points commonly face the S or SE, and are able to be surfed in optimal conditions, with clean swells coming from S and SE and winds coming from N and NW.
Waves here generally do not exceed a meter in height, although a few times year some beaches may witness waves of 1.5 meters, ideal for beginner level surfers. In this area, sandbanks are more consistent during the summer months, due to strong spring winds from N and NE forming sand banks which the winter’s S, SW winds, also known as the pamperos, then remove.
The most-frequented beaches are Atlántida, Santa Lucía del Este, and Jaureguiberry or the Solís’ river mouth, but there are also plenty of other spots alongside this 70 kilometer stretch that are good for practicing sports and relaxing.
San Luis Resort
San Luis is a resort of more than 60 years, known for its quiet beaches and incredible sunsets. The place is chosen by many tourists for its rugged surroundings and various sports activities such as the races of 5k and 10k San Luis. It is a traditional point for small scale fishing, with species such as silversides, whitebait and burriquetas (Menticirrhusamericanus).
Night time makes it the place for night fishing, when families gather around keep nets and lanterns. The native forest of Arroyo del Bagre, the stream of water surrounding the resort, adds a special attraction to the place.
Enjoy the countryside of Canelones
Nature and the traditions of the countryside of Canelones are only a few kilometers away from Montevideo.
A group of rural establishments in the rural area of Canelones and Santa Lucia have gathered to show the everyday life of men and women working on the fields, growing the food served at the tables of many Uruguayans.
There is a group of local tourism offering innovative trails to show the diversity of agricultural production and family businesses by sharing their stories, culture and values. Some proposals include lunch and tea, with a classical and traditional country style homemade menu that is worth a try.
The Senderos de Santa Lucía Group is formed by several farmers and producers that can be contacted to arrange the visits.
Hortifruticola Ruta 62 of Family Fourcade – Marchissio.
A family undertaking with strong ties to the countryside. They have different types of fruit trees such as plum, peach and apple trees and strawberries and several vegetables depending on the time of the year.
Vinícola Filgueira (FilgueiraWinery).
This winery created at the beginning of the XX century is dedicated to the production of fine wine, which has received international awards on several occasions. The place offers tours to visit the vineyards, winery and cellar.
La Cabañita de la Familia Bentancour Fourcade.
This is an ideal meeting point to enjoy a good “asado” (barbecued beef) and tasty afternoon snacks with friends and family. Everything has a familiar taste and is served in a charming ambiance.
El Canelón. Familia Perrone – Abreu.
Set up at the location Canelón Grande on Road 64, ever since 1941 this establishment has been dedicated to horticulture and especially the production of garlic and sweet corn. It has facilities for the supply of large areas and shops in general. This point provides another view of the production chain.
Tambo La Fe de Manuel Gesto. (Dairy Farm).
This is a long established dairy farm with vast experience in the field. Visitors can experience the milking activity and dairy production of things they usually have on their tables every day.
La Pastora; la Familia Sambolino-Bustos.
Dedicated to the rearing of sheep for milking purposes for the past 6 years, this undertaking offers another view of rural activities. The establishment also produces artisan cheese. Once there, another interesting place to visit is the Jardín Temático (theme garden) of Mr. Niel Rodríguez, which has a great variety of native flora and covers an extension of different and carefully designed park styles.
Contact: Cell phone: 099397804 – 091932745 – 099475515
Facebook: Senderos Santa Lucía