UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova traveled to Colonia del Sacramento today, and visited the old city, which became the first World Heritage site of Uruguay in 1995.

She was accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Education, Mr. Ricardo Erlich and by the Permanent Delegate of Uruguay to UNESCO, Ambassador Omar Mesa Gonzalez.

During her visit, she met with local officials and discussed the preservation of the site and the pressure brought about by tourism.

Mrs Bokova also witnessed a dance of tango, which was inscribed to the Intangible Heritage list on the basis of a joint submission by Argentina and Uruguay, as well as a demonstration of Candombe drums, also registered on the Intangible Heritage List in 2009. The practice of the candombe begins around communal fires as people gather to tune their drums and socialize before beginning their march. Once underway, the drum-call parade is led by the most prestigious members, from families recognized by the community for their drumming for many generations; other drummers are organized behind them in rows, and informal participants, dancers and spectators march alongside or watch from balconies. Transmitted within families of African descent, the candombe is recognized as an expression of resistance as well as a Uruguayan musical celebration and collective social practice deeply interwoven in the daily life of these neighbourhoods. It is also a symbol and manifestation of the memory of the community, drawing former residents back on special days to the historical nucleus of candombe.