Cerro Largo is marked by the cultural mix that characterizes areas on the border with Brazil. The department’s carnivals are celebrated with an undeniable Brazilian influence, the rhythms of the neighboring country permeating throughout the area, while mastering both the Spanish and Portuguese languages is a necessity for the majority of its inhabitants.
Many Uruguayan ranches extend into Brazilian territory and capital coming from the north, together with that from Uruguayan investors, stimulates the cultivation of rice, one of the main economic activities in the area.
Located in the northeast of Uruguay, this department borders Tacuarembó and Rivera to the north, Lake Merin and Brazil to the east, Treinta y Tres to the south and Durazno to the west.
Its name comes from a geographical accident: the Cerro Largo, a long hill and the highest in the department. Its inhabitants are known as “Arachanes” though in truth it was the Minuane Indians who originally populated the territory until the arrival of the Spanish.
The city of Melo, the department’s capital, is located in the center of the department, 387 km from Montevideo and 60km from Brazil.
Among its tourist attractions are plaza Constitución (Constitution Square), where there is a monument of the national hero, General José Gervasio Artigas, and the cathedral church, founded in 1876.
Plaza Independencia (Independence Square), also located in the city center, is the popular meeting place for family and friends during the weekend.
The parks and greenspaces, located very close to the center, are some of the other attractions of Melo, for those who enjoy time in the open air.
The municipal zoo is a favorite of children. Here they can observe several examples of native fauna as well as animals from other places such as tigers, pumas, llamas and lions.
For tourists who would like to see the nation’s history first hand, the home of the celebrated writer Juana de Ibarbourou, or “Juana de América”, is another must see.
The Municipal Zoo.
Located in front of the Rivera Park, on Route 26, this is without doubt one of the favorite outings for small children. In the grounds it is possible to see animals native to Cerro Largo, as well as from other places, such as lions, monkeys, llamas, alligators and pheasant. Very close to the zoo is the historic ranch of Bartolo Silva, where General Fructuoso Rivera, the first president of the Republic, passed away.
The Regional History Museum.
Located on Constitution Square, Gral Artigas Street and 18 de Julio Street, this museum, which is considered the most important in Melo, exhibits interesting historical documents about the department, in addition to photographs, uniforms, weapons and archaeological artifacts from indigenous cultures.
The Zorilla de San Martín Park.
On the banks of the Conventos River, this park has two Spanish patios with beautiful original ceramic tilework and also houses the Municipal Summer Theater (with a capacity of three thousand people), playground areas, the iconic Frog Fountain and the Rowers Club of Melo.
The Cordobés Country Estate.
In this historic country estate, located 130 km from Melo and 30km from Santa Clara de Olimar, on Route 38, is the General Aparicio Saravia Museum, as it was here that the legendary nationalist leader lived. It is a rural construction, typical of the nineteenth century, with a tiled roof and thick stone walls. Inside you can appreciate several documents and objects from that period.
The house of Juana de Ibarbourou.
Visiting the birthplace of Uruguay’s most famous poet, and one of the most recognized on the continent, is a wonderful experience for visitors to Melo. The house still has objects and furniture from that period, as well as the fig tree under which she wrote her first poems. The house-museum is on Treinta y Tres Street, 317.
Source: Ministry of Tourism