Skyscrapers offer breathtaking views of Uruguay's capital

VIEWS: Sunset over Montevideo, Uruguay.
VIEWS: Sunset over Montevideo, Uruguay.

Few skyscrapers stand out on the Montevideo skyline - one sail-shaped tower and the tall buildings of the World Trade Center are about all there are - which gives the sights from the highest points an almost total view of Uruguay's capital and the immense River Plate.

"The skyscraper is a cement giraffe whose skin is spotted with windows" was how poet Alfredo Mario Ferreiro (1899-1959) described the 95-metre-tall Palacio Salvo. From its cupola can be seen the 30-tonne equestrian statue, some 17 metres tall, of the hero of Uruguayan independence, Jose Gervasio Artigas, as well as the Old Town peninsula.

Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott designed the Antel Tower, headquarters of Uruguay's state telecom company - the country's tallest building - in the form of a sail in order to "stop the winds of the area," construction worker Carlos Delgado tells me. Its peculiar form plays with the view from the 25th floor, where tourists at some places feel they are in the narrow prow of a ship and at others in a vessel's wide stern.

The 40th floor of the World Trade Centre's Tower 4 offers the highest view in Montevideo; despite the fact the Antel Tower is a few metres taller overall, it only has 26 floors. According to one of the architects responsible for the project, Ernesto Kimelman, constructing this 125-metre landmark in a city where the average building stands some 30 metres was the result of long negotiations with city authorities.

Atop the WTC Tower 1 Free Trade Zone there is an enormous yellow bullseye and no railing to interrupt the 360-degree view. The helipad, however, hasn't been used much because it is only suitable for two-engine helicopters - a model not very popular in the region.

The green of Centenary Stadium contrasts with the grey and white of the buildings and the blue of the River Plate from the 100-metre Homenajes Tower. Architect Juan Antonio Scasso had the idea of crowning the sports centre with a lookout after seeing a similar stadium in the Netherlands.

Down at ground level there are spectacular vistas to take in as well.

Every afternoon a number of curiosity seekers will visit Plaza de la Armada, on a hill at one end of the interminable Montevideo Rambla, to watch how the pink, orange and violet shades of the setting sun darken amid the buildings of the Pocitos and Punta Carretas neighborhoods.

Added to the palette of sunset colors is the bright red of aloe vera flowers dotting this green hill.

An impressive feature of the plaza is the Monument to the Fallen, a magnificent sculpture by Spanish artist Eduardo Diaz Yepes.

It is not by chance that Cerro de Montevideo, the highest hill in the capital, was the place that the colonists chose to build a fort. From its hilltop, one gets the feeling that the city is a miniature model ready to be visited by colorful toy ships.

At the foot of the fort there is also an enormous panel with the word "Montevideo" on it, the perfect place for taking the coveted selfie.