Last modified: 2021-12-24 by rob raeside
Keywords: maldonado | departamento de maldonado |
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The department of Maldonado (164,300 inhabitants in 2011) is made of the municipalities of Aiguá, Garzón, Maldonado (capital), Pan de
Azúcar, Piriápolis, Punta del Este, San Carlos and Solís Grande.
Ivan Sache, 22 May 2017
The municipality of Maldonado (84,809 inhabitants in 2011, that is more than 75% of the population of the department of Maldonado) is located on the southern shore of Uruguay, 140 km of Montevideo, forming a conurbation with the neighbouring town of Punta del Este.
Maldonado was established in 1755 by José Joaquín de Viana (1718-1773), first Governor of Montevideo (1751-1764) who established 13 families close to Lake Diario. The settlement, named San Fernando de Maldonado as a tribute to King of Spain Ferdinand VI, was moved in 1757 to its today's location. Viana decided to settle the eastern shore of Río de la Plata to limit the Portuguese advance towards the Spanish possessions.
In 1796, Minister Rafael Pérez del Puerto required from the Spanish Crown funding for the erection of a cathedral, which indicates a significant demographic boom of the town. Funded by a tax imposed on leather sales in Maldonado and San Carlos, the building of the church started in 1801, under the probable guidance of José Custodio de Saa y Faría, a Portuguese engineer serving the king of Spain. The building of the cathedral was stopped in 1806 by the English invasions. The unachieved church was used as barracks during the Great War (1843-1851); works resumed only in 1883, thanks to the parish priest, Pedro Podestá. The cathedral was eventually consecrated on 27 October 1895 by San Carlos-born Bishop Mariano Soler (1846-1908; Bishop of Montevideo, 1891; Archbishop of Montevideo, 1897).
The flag of Maldonado was designed by Carlos Premazzi Rivero, descendant of one of the first settlers of the place, winner of a public contest organized in 2007 by the municipality, among 41 proposals.
The lower, dark blue stripe represents the "sea", that is, Río de la Plata, while the upper, light blue stripe represents the sky. The two stripes support the Watch Tower, superimposed to the sun and surrounded by two laurel and olive boughs representing glory and triumph.
The Watch Tower (17 m in height) was erected in 1799-1800 upon order of the 7th Vice Roy of Río de la Plata (1799-1801), Gabriel de Avilés y del Fierro (1735-1810), "for the watch and observation of all occurrences at sea", that is to control all ships entering the estuary. During the English invasions (1809), the inhabitants of Maldonado met at the tower to hear the news about the movements of the English fleet, which were communicated by a Spanish officer standing atop the tower.
Ivan Sache, 22 May 2017