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Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento

Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento

Founded by the Portuguese in 1680 on the Río de la Plata, the city was of strategic importance in resisting the Spanish. After being disputed for a century, it was finally lost by its founders. The well-preserved urban landscape illustrates the successful fusion of the Portuguese, Spanish and post-colonial styles.

Quartier historique de la ville de Colonia del Sacramento

Fondée par les Portugais en 1680 sur le Río de la Plata, la ville avait une fonction stratégique face à l'Empire espagnol. Disputée pendant un siècle, elle fut finalement perdue par ses fondateurs. Son paysage urbain préservé, mélange de solennité et d'intimité, est un exemple de la fusion réussie des styles portugais, espagnol et postcolonial.

الحي التاريخي في مدينة كولونيا دي ساكرامنتو

كانت هذه المدينة التي أسسها البرتغاليون عام 1680 على ضفاف نهر ريو دي لا بلاتا تؤدي وظيفة استراتيجية إزاء الامبراطورية الإسبانية، إلا ان مؤسسيها فقدوها في نهاية المطاف بعد نزاع دار حولها طيلة قرن من الزمن. ويشكل مظهرها المدني السليم الذي يمزج بين الفخامة والحميمية مثالاً على الدمج الموفّق بين الأساليب البرتغالية والإسبانية وتلك التابعة لمرحلة الاستعمار.

source: UNESCO/ERI

萨拉门多移民镇的历史区

1680年,葡萄牙人在拉普拉塔联邦兴建了萨拉门多小镇,起到了战略上防御西班牙帝国侵略的作用。经过一个世纪的争夺,小镇终于落在西班牙人手中。萨拉门多保留了小镇的原貌,其建筑亦庄亦谐,整个小镇是葡萄牙、西班牙和已经成为历史的殖民地时代建筑风格的完美融合。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Историческая часть города Колония-дель-Сакраменто

Город, основанный португальцами в 1680 г. на берегу реки Рио-де-Ла-Плата, имел стратегическое значение в противостоянии с испанцами. После столетия споров он, в конце концов, был оставлен своими основателями. Хорошо сохранившийся облик города демонстрирует успешное смешение португальского, испанского и постколониального стилей.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Barrio histórico de la ciudad de Colonia del Sacramento

Fundada por los portugueses en 1680, a orillas del Río de la Plata, Colonia del Sacramento tuvo una función estratégica en la pugna de éstos con los españoles. Disputada por ambos durante más de un siglo, la ciudad cayó por fin en manos de los españoles. Su paisaje urbano bien conservado, solemne e íntimo a la vez, constituye un ejemplo de fusión lograda entre el estilo arquitectónico portugués, el español y el postcolonial.

source: UNESCO/ERI

コロニア・デル・サクラメントの歴史的街並み

source: NFUAJ

Historisch kwartier van de stad Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento werd in 1680 opgericht door de Portugezen op de Río de la Plata. De stad was van strategisch belang in het verzet tegen de Spanjaarden. De stad moest door de Portugezen worden prijsgegeven na een gevecht van een eeuw. De oude Portugese stad – Nova Colonia do Santissimo Sacramento genaamd – werd gebouwd in het uiterste westen van een schiereiland in de buurt van Río de la Plata en was omringd door water. Het intact gebleven stedelijke landschap van de stad toont de succesvolle fusie van de Portugese, Spaanse en postkoloniale stijlen.

Source: unesco.nl

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Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento © Philipp Schinz
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief summary

Founded by the Portuguese in 1680, Colonia del Sacramento is located at the tip of a short peninsula with a strategic position on the north shore of the Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires. In the region, the Historic Quarter of Colonia is the only example of an urban plan that does not conform to the rigid "checkerboard" grid imposed by Spain under the "Laws of the Indies." Instead, this city has a free plan adapted to the topographical features of the site, although strongly influenced by its military function.

Throughout the successive destructions and occupations of its territory, the Historic Quarter acquired the urban and architectural heterogeneity that characterizes it:  to the contributions of the Portuguese and Spanish, were added those of the artisans who emigrated there during the second half of the 19th century.

All of its modest buildings, in regard both to their dimensions and their appearance, are a particularly interesting testimony to the singular fusion of the Portuguese and Spanish traditions that is evident in the construction methods used. The civil and religious buildings with long stone walls, wooden trellis and tiled roofs reveal an excellent knowledge of traditional construction systems and contribute to the architectural unity specific to the Historic Quarter.

The special nature of Colonia del Sacramento is also based on its urban landscape, a mixture of large arteries and large squares, with narrow cobbled streets and more private spaces. The scale of the Historic Quarter is marked by the predominance of single-storey houses, those of two stories being rare. From the bay, only the outlines of the lighthouse and church towers stand out. Surrounded by water on three sides, the relationship of the city to the river is one of the natural aspects that additionally characterizes it.

The bloody border dispute between Portugal and Spain gave this remarkable urban site an identity profile enabling appreciation of the survival of its essential characteristics: the dominant human scale, the texture and the "time" of this unique scenario, and the value of its integration into the environment.

Criterion (iv):  The Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento bears remarkable testimony in its layout and its buildings to the nature and objectives of European colonial settlement, in particular during the seminal period at the end of the 17th century.

Integrity

The site inscribed on the World Heritage List retains the elements necessary for the expression of its Outstanding Universal Value, in accordance with the attributes underpinning this value. Thus, despite the passage of time, the ancient Colonia del Sacramento has maintained its original structure and urban scale, as concerns both its buildings and urban spaces. In particular, the urban plan coincides almost exactly with that of the Lusitanian "Nova Colonia do Sacramento", notably with the period of greatest splendour corresponding to the first half of the 18th century.

All the elements necessary for the expression of the values of the Historic Quarter of Colonia del Sacramento are included in the designated area and its buffer zone. The area inscribed on the World Heritage List is clearly defined and includes all the attributes of the property as determined by the boundaries of the walled city of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. In addition, there is a buffer zone that extends to the immediate area of the Historic Quarter, including the city centre.

Authenticity

Given the condition of the property at the time of inscription on the World Heritage List, the conservation of its Outstanding Universal Value, as well as its credibility and original features, are evident.  Public and private interventions at the site are carried out in accordance with international standards and local opportunities. An admissibility process of construction practices is being implemented.

At the site, businesses that often change their main activity turn mostly to tourism services, and the cultural models and consumption requirements of new landlords constitute a wake-up call as regards the potential vulnerability of the authenticity in specific cases.

Protection and Management Measures

The layout itself, the public spaces and all the buildings of the Historic Quarter are listed as National Historic Monuments. They thus benefit from the highest protection under the national law in force (Law 14.040 of 1971).

The management of the Historic Quarter of Colonia is the purview of various organizations. At national level, the Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC) is responsible for policies concerning the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and enhancement of the cultural heritage of the nation. The Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Nation (Law 14,040 of 1971) works under the umbrella of the MEC. Its main objectives are to advise the Executive Power of the Nation on properties listed as Historic Monuments, and to monitor the conservation of monuments and their social promotion. At the departmental level, the Honorary Executive Council (Law 15,819 of 1986) is the body responsible for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and enhancement of all the sites and monuments of the Department of Colonia, including the Historic Quarter. At local level, the Town Hall of Colonia is responsible for urban planning and standards governing the use of land and construction, as well as utilities, maintenance and sanitary services of the conservation area. Various municipal decrees define the criteria for the construction of buildings, their height, the installation of billboards and acceptable noise levels. The decree on land use is currently under study.

Increased risks associated with real estate pressure, the increase in the number of tourists -- leading to changes in usage (increase in the number of shops and secondary residences), -- and the decrease in the numbers of the local population, oblige the authorities to initiate new planning processes and to rethink the management of the site. A Conservation Plan for the site inscribed on the World Heritage List, prior to the implementation of a Management Plan is currently under review, to counter this development.

It is expected, in the short term, to include the "Bay and the Islands of Colonia" as an extension of the property, on the premise that they are the complement of the terrestrial buffer zone that is already included in the Statement. Thus, all the surrounding territories (terrestrial, insular and aquatic), could benefit from the same protection and management measures as the Historic Quarter.

Long Description

The Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento bears remarkable testimony in its layout and its buildings to the nature and objectives of European colonial settlement, in particular during the seminal period at the end of the 17th century.

Dom Pedro, Prince Regent of Portugal, commissioned his chief minister Manuel Lobo, named Governor of Rio de Janeiro, in 1678 to found a settlement on the Río de la Plata, on the island of St Gabriel. Work began in 1680 and in 1690 Master Church and the Franciscan convent were built.

In 1704-5, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the town was razed to the ground after it was taken. Reconstruction began immediately, and by 1718 there were over 1,000 inhabitants. From the time that Antonio Pedro de Vasconcellos took over as Governor in 1722, Sacramento became the powerhouse of material, commercial and cultural development in the colony. The success of Sacramento as a commercial entrepot had a decisive influence on the development of Buenos Aires and its region.

The town changed hands again in 1762 when it was taken over by the Spanish, but returned to Portugal the following year, after yet another treaty was signed by the two rival powers. The successful siege of 1777 saw Sacramento definitively incorporated in the Spanish Empire under the terms of the treaty of San Ildefonso; part of the fortifications were dismantled and a few houses demolished, but the urban fabric for the most part survived. Between 1839 and 1851 the new nation was engaged in the 'Great War' against its neighbour, Argentina. What remained of its defences was finally demolished in 1859. However, much influence had passed to the national capital, Montevideo. The historical importance of Sacramento was first recognized in 1924, when there was an unsuccessful attempt to have part of the town designated a National Monument.

The old Portuguese town, Nova Colonia do Santissimo Sacramento, was built on the extreme west side of a peninsula near the Río de la Plata. The town itself was bounded by water on its north, west and south sides and to the east by the former lines of defensive walls and bastions.

Today the historic area is defined by the axis of Calle Ituzaingo. The range of buildings is wide in both time and style, and the town has preserved its urban layout and a remarkable collection of structures bearing witness to its more than three centuries of Portuguese, Spanish, and Uruguayan history. Its form is organic, adapted to the topography of the site. It also exercised an unquestioned influence on architectural development in colonial style on either side of the Río de la Plata, where there are examples of Portuguese influence. A number of distinguished Portuguese architects served the Portuguese state in the former Colonia del Sacramento.

The foundation of the town was in fact a somewhat delayed consequence of the claims of the two great colonial powers, Portugal and Spain, in South America, who competed for the power to export the riches of the mines in Peru and the fruits of the agricultural areas in Brazil.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

On 8 October 1678 Don Pedro, Prince Regent of Portugal, commissioned his chief minister Manuel Lobe, named Governor of Rio de Janeiro, with founding a settlement on the Río de la Plata, on the island of St Gabriel. Work began in 1680, to the alarm of the Spaniards in Buenos Aires, who attacked and sacked the new town before the year was out. The so-called Provisional Treaty, signed in Lisbon in 1681, restored the town to Portugal, but prohibited any constructions beyond those already in place. The Portuguese returned in 1683, but the town did not begin to develop until the 1690s, which saw the erection of the Master Church and the Franciscan convent church.

In 1704-05, during the war of the Spanish succession, the growing town was besieged by the Spanish, to be razed to the ground after it was taken. The two powers signed in 1715 a Treaty of Friendship and Peace at Utrecht under the terms of which Portuguese sovereignty was not only recognized over Sacramento but also over the land surrounding it. Reconstruction began immediately, and by 1718 there were over a thousand inhabitants. From the time that Antonio Pedro de Vasconcellos took over as Governor in 1722 Sacramento became the powerhouse of material, commercial, and cultural development in the colony. lt was, for example, the starting point in the 1730s for the remarkable journeys of Cristovao Pereira de Abreu that opened up the routes to Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. The success of Sacramento as a commercial entrepot had a decisive influence on the development of Buenos Aires and its region, and played a role in the creation of the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires. The town successfully withstood another Spanish siege in 1735-37, and when Vasconcellos retired after 27 years as Governor he saw it transformed into a strongly defended and prosperous community.

The town changed hands again in 1762, when it was taken over by the Spanish, but returned to Portugal the following year, after vet another treaty was signed by the two rival powers. The successful siege of 1777 saw Sacramento definitively incorporated in the Spanish empire under the terms of the Treaty of San lldefonso; part of the fortifications were dismantled and a few houses demolished, but the urban fabric for the most part survived. Spanish settlers moved into the town, mainly from Galicia, Asturias, Castile, and Leon. Sacramento was the scene of a number of the events that took place when revolutionary fervour led to the wars of independence. led by Jose Artigas from 1810 onwards. Full Independence was achieved in 1828, but not before grievous damage had been wrought on the Main Church by an explosion during a short period of Portuguese occupation. Between 1839 and 1851 the new nation was engaged in the "Great War" against its neighbor, Argentina, and Sacramento suffered from vet another bitter siege. What remained of its defences were finally demolished in 1859, and a period of judicious reconstruction and expansion began. However, much influence had passed to the national capital, Montevideo.

The historical importance of Sacramento was first recognized in 1924, when there was an unsuccessful attempt to nave part of the town designated a National Monument, with substantial controls over development and a generous allocation from the national budget. Subsequent attempts to protect the historic quality of the town failed again in 1929, 1938, and 1947.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation