Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse – Colonia Del Sacramento, Uruguay - Atlas Obscura

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Colonia del Sacramento Lighthouse

Constructed on the ruins of a convent, this tower saved countless lives.  


Rising 112 feet above the city’s historic quarter, construction on this lighthouse began in 1845. Designed by soldiers, the project was placed on-hold due to the outbreak of civil war. Work wasn’t officially completed until 1857.

Built-in 1690, the Convent of San Francisco Javier was close to the waterfront of this Portuguese settlement. The chapel’s tower served as an important landmark for boats navigating the Rio de la Plata. In 1705, the convent was destroyed by a fire, however, all was not lost. Eventually, the tower was reconstructed to create the lighthouse. The remaining convent walls added structural stability and are still visible today.

The Rio de la Plata is actually an estuary formed by the confluence of the Paraná and Uruguay Rivers. Both are important trade routes connecting much of central South America to the outside world. Strong winds from the Atlantic have caused many shipwrecks, so many that the Rio de la Plata has been called “the hell of sailor’s” and is known as a naval graveyard.

The top of the lighthouse provides a nice vantage point to view the city. The city’s historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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