Uruguay’s White Palace on the Atlantic

Posted by on Jun 3, 2011 in Uruguay | 0 comments

We were first tipped off about this enchantingly eccentric palace tucked away in the corners of the Atlantic Ocean by a fellow couch surfing buddy of ours, Paula. (Meet Paula in our Florianopolis, Brazil blog post.)

We were all exchanging travel stories, ‘the’ downtime past time for backpackers, when she brought out a hardback book with a very odd, very white and very huge adobe mansion on the cover.   I immediately wanted to go.

What is this mystical place?

She then told us it was call Casapueblo and it was in Uruguay. My heart sank.  We were not planning on going to Uruguay and didn’t even know if we needed a visa to enter.

Uruguay is one of the smallest South American countries, so small that it’s Lonely Planet guide is in Argentina’s.  The beaches of Uruguay are extremely popular with the Argentinean and Brazilian glitterati in the summer, but Ben and I are hardly the glitterati and winter was approaching.

Beautiful dream-like landscapes.

Most backpackers skip Uruguay all together in the offseason and Ben and I wondered if it would be worth the trip.  We were on a tight schedule to get to Mendoza before the season turned. But being flexible backpackers, we decided to go.  I use the adjective flexible loosely. The fact is we can afford to be flexible because we never book anything in advance. Never.

Shrug. It’s a blessing and a curse.

View of the Atlantic Ocean from the balcony

Casapueblo was the last stop on our Uruguayan tour and we still had no idea what to expect besides what Paula told us.  So when we got there we decided to watch the introductory movie of on its creator Carlos Paez Vilaro.

Carlos Paez Vilaro is a painter, sculptor and architect who has traveled all over the world, hmmm that sounds familiar, lol. He would submerge himself in different cultures and then depicted them in his works.

Some of his beautiful art work on sell.

He also strongly believed that art is something that should be accessible to all classes of society not just enjoyed by the elite. That’s why he would paint huge murals in and for the places he visited.

Casapueblo is also a testament to this belief. Not only is Casapueblo a “living sculpture”, that housing his works and a newly added on hotel, but also where Carlos spends much of his time today and can be regularly seen.   Ben and I both caught glimpses of the larger then life icon staring out a window and stretching on a patio.


Carlos has also dedicated Cacapueblo to his son, Carlitos Peaz, one of the sixteen survivors of Uruguayn Air Force Flight 571 crash. The survivors of this plane crash survived in the Andes for 70 days.  Their struggle for survival was depicted in the 1993 featured film Alive.

Pablo Picasso y Carlos Paez Vilaro

After we enjoyed the art gallery and breathtaking views inside, we were tipped off by another friend of our Tiffany about a very discreet path that can be found as you approach the house on your left just before you get to the adobe sculptor with flags.

The path was very narrow and steep and of course we were in flip-flops but that did not stop us from going down it.   It was this path the lead us to extraordinary views of Casapueblo and the Atlantic coastline.

Sitting down on the path by Casapueblo

Ben's model pose.

We followed the path until we found a spot of the edge of the rocky cliff and watched the sunset together.  Awww.

Sunset at Casapueblo

Note: To get to Casapueblo is easy. You just take the intercity bus in Punto del Este to Montevideo but tell the ticket counter and the bus driver you want to go to Casapueblo, the fare is only 10 pesos.  The intercity bus drops you off about a mile away from the house and the driver points to its general direction.

Sunset over the Atlantic

Getting back was complicated. It was dark. It was cold. Did I mention we were in fip-flops?  We were. We didn’t know where the bus stop was returning to Punto del Este even though we saw about 5 Punto del Este buses go by, none of them stopped for us.

After walking a few miles (in the wrong direction), in the dark, along a busy highway, I ran across the street completely feed up to ask a bus driver that was going to Montevideo who had stopped to pick up some passengers where the heck our bus stop was. He kindly pointed it out to us.   Long story short just ask how to get back before you get dropped off.

Casapueblo panoramic-style

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