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Mercedes, Uruguay - Town Near Fray Bentos With A River & Island

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Uruguay travel blog by Mark Berman - May 2012   » View Photoset (47 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 11yrs!
Mercedes is a lovely small city on the banks of the Negro River inland from the Uruguay River and the border with Argentina. Walking around Mercedes
Uruguay Photo - Plaza Sociedad Amigos de la Educacion Popular 1868 in Mercedes.
Plaza Sociedad Amigos de la Educacion Popular 1868 in Mercedes.
is captivating with its many eye-catching streets, colorful houses and tree-lined footpaths. Being beside the river brings a definite sense of being able to relax and take it easy, go fishing or just enjoy the peace of nature. I had arrived in Mercedes from Paysandu. From the bus terminal I walked half a dozen or so blocks into the center and found a reasonably priced (by Uruguayan standards) budget hotel.

Exploring the Town

I spent the day exploring the city. I walked to Plaza Independencia. It's a sunny plaza with palm trees and a monument to Asencio (28 February 1811). On one side of the plaza is the great cathedral of Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes - a National Historical Monument. The cathedral is beautiful outside and in, chandeliers, stained glass windows, dome and dual towers. I enjoyed walking along the cobblestone streets as I admired the old houses and architecture - interesting doorways, windows, facades and colors. The leafless trees created stark shadows on the sides of them. I picked up some delicious sandwiches at a bakery and sat
Uruguay Photo - Fountain and monument at Plaza Lavalleja in Mercedes city.
Fountain and monument at Plaza Lavalleja in Mercedes city.
in Plaza Rivera. Plaza Rivera is a big sunny space surrounded by shady trees, it is named after Uruguayan General and President Jose Fructuoso Rivera (1784-1854), the central monument is a tall white column with a figure at the top holding a spear. I continued my stroll around Mercedes, just going where my eyes took me, enjoying every moment as the locals wizzed around on their motor scooters. The center of town has a modern shopping area. Then I passed a few historic buildings - a gothic looking church, the police school and a pink church Iglesia Metodista. I came to another church Sagrado Corazon (1952), not old by historic standards and nearby I found Plaza Lavalleja. It's a big sunny plaza with palms and a fountain, a Juan Antonio
Uruguay Photo - Cyclist and a motor scooter ride the cobblestone streets of Mercedes.
Cyclist and a motor scooter ride the cobblestone streets of Mercedes.
Lavalleja monument stands with a flag, he was a Uruguayan revolutionary figure (1784-1853).

Walk to the River

I walked towards the river through the cobblestone streets, past colorful historical houses until I reached the main road along the waterfront known as the Rambla. Its beautiful and picturesque with trees and parks all around. There are plazas dedicated to various South American countries, I was standing in Plaza Paraguay with its fountain water feature and art piece. I continued along the shady tree-lined path and came to a wild deer artwork. Next I passed a monument to one of the famous conquerors before finding myself in Plaza Republica Argentina. From
Uruguay Photo - The tranquil and calm Negro River in Mercedes.
The tranquil and calm Negro River in Mercedes.
here a single line of tall bushy palm trees led the way along the riverfront path to the next art piece and then to another in Plaza Brasil. I came to Plaza Sociedad Amigos de la Educacion Popular 1868 next, a nice big open space with panoramic views of the river. The monument is to Jose Pedro Varela (1845-1879) - a Uruguayan sociologist a major advancer of the Uruguayan education system. A group of men carried a boat down to the river, the river was still, it made a beautiful scene. A tourist ferry was docked alongside the cobblestone wharf area as were sailboats and small wooden fishing dinghies, an old railtrack runs by here.

Port Island

I could see the bridge across the river to the island Isla del Puerto (Port Island) as a horse and cart strode
Uruguay Photo - White horses pull a cart in Mercedes.
White horses pull a cart in Mercedes.
along the road across from me. The island has beaches, camping and a restaurant. It's a beautiful place and so peaceful with picnic areas beside the water and tables and chairs spread out underneath the trees. I loved it here beside the Negro River in Mercedes, it was offpeak season, nobody else was here.

Go to Carmelo

It was time to get my backpack from my hotel and make my way to the terminal. As I walked to the bus I saw the church Iglesia de Maria Auxiliadora and visited Plaza Artigas. Every city in Uruguay has a Plaza Artigas, he's the national hero. A group of youth asked me to take a photo of them for which I did and outside the bus terminal a couple of young guys wanted the same thing, they are friendly people here in Mercedes. From Mercedes I travelled south to Carmelo through Dolores and Palmira which took around 2hrs.

     

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Mercedes, Uruguay:

Hotel Marin, Mercedes, Uruguay - Large Photo
Hotel Marin, Mercedes, Uruguay (May 2012 - 1 night) - Large room with basic bathroom and a tv. Not too bad for the price. Located in the center of town not far from the plaza.

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Mercedes, Uruguay - Town Near Fray Bentos With A River & Island. Mercedes is a lovely small city on the banks of the Negro River inland from the Uruguay River and the border with Argentina. Walking around Mercedes is captivating with its many eye-catching streets, colorful houses and tree-lined footpaths. Visit Port Island for a picnic by the river!

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