The capital of Uruguay is also its largest city, as well as the most important port in the region. The city was founded in the first half of the 19th century and quickly gained significance thanks to its strategic location. Today, it is also a centre of cultural life.
Montevideo is home to the most important sites in the field of culture. First of all, the headquarters of the National Library is located in the city, as well as the IM Centre Library of Education and Scientific Research, which offers an extensive collection of books, which has been digitised and is available to everyone. Public libraries ensure free information and consultation services in addition to lending their collections – mainly books and magazines.
The biggest cultural centre that popularises contemporary art in Montevideo is the Centro de Exposiciones Subte. Located in Fabini Square, it is part of the cultural department of the city hall. It promotes artistic activity and is a reference point for contemporary visual arts. It features works by such artists as Figari, Cuneo and Larroche.
Another important site in the city is the Florencio Sanchez Cultural Centre, which was the home to a theatre from the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1990s it began operating again, with the inaugural season taking place in 1996. The most important national artists perform on its stage. In addition to performances, the theatre also hosts lectures, discussions and stagecraft workshops.
The pride of the city is Pittamiglio Castle, named in honour of the owner and chief architect – Humberto Pittamiglio. The residence continued to exist in a state of construction, because it was meant to serve as a metaphor for unending life. Inside, there are many corridors and doors that lead nowhere, which gives the building a certain aura of mystery. Many legends exist about the castle, including one that says that the Holy Grail, searched for by the Knights Templar, is located inside the castle.
A place that ties together cultural life in the city is the Daniel Fernandez Crespo Cultural Centre. In addition to workshops and lectures, it also hosts concerts and performances. Meetings with artists are intended to promote culture, especially in the area of alternative art.
As part of the cooperation of the cities of the Caribbean and Latin America against racism, discrimination and xenophobia, the Afro-Uruguayan Cultural Centre was established in Montevideo, now serving as a meeting centre for people of African descent. The goal of the centre is to create social equality and to fight against racism. By spreading knowledge about the roots and traditions of minorities, the cultural centre wants to contribute to the broadening of awareness about the African cultural heritage.