Soriano is a picturesque department located to the west, on the Río Negro of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, whose capital is the city of Mercedes, it is part of the Painted Birds Corridor, and its main attractions are focused on the landscapes of its rivers. In the coastal Rambla of the City of Mercedes, the Club Rowers is located, where rowing is promoted. In this place there is a typical restaurant with a view of the Río Negro, where you can enjoy typical foods.
Art is present in this departmental capital, because you can visit the Eusebio Giménez Art Gallery where you can find collections of Uruguayan art from the 19th and 20th century, among which we can highlight José Cúneo, Pedro Figari, Rafael Barradas, and the “son of the homeland painter” Juan Luis Blanes. Works by foreign artists such as José De Madrazo, who introduced neoclassicism in the Spain of Ferdinand VII, are exhibited here, as well as the collection of Eusebio Giménez, a Mercedarian philanthropist who donated the land of his father’s house to this city in his will to make a museum and library, leaving the legacy of his private library, wishes fulfilled in 1935.
An artistic curiosity in Mercedes capital, are the “Houses of Matosas” made between 1934 and 1936 by Francisco i Amat, a Catalan immigrant, born in 1886 in Badalona, and who arrived in Uruguay in 1917. His profession was a stonecutter, and in the estimated 30 houses he built in Mercedes, he reflected Catalan modernism, Art Nouveau, and some similarities with the work of Antonio Gaudí. This artist-builder used techniques such as “faux bois” which is based on ferrocement to imitate wood, he also used pebbles and colored stones to create his mosaics, designing religious, gaucho (typical of Uruguay), Catalan landscapes and esoteric. The three most outstanding houses are located on C. Careaga and Rivera streets and are: his own Residence, the Casa del Aviador and the Vendedora de Rosas.
Villa Soriano is the departmental city with great historical importance, because on its Agraciada beach, it is said that “the homeland was born here”, with the landing of the Liberation Crusade of the Thirty-Three Orientals on April 19, 1825, under commanded by Juan Antonio Lavalleja and Manuel Oribe, where they swore “Freedom or Death”, carriers of a red, white and blue flag with the same motto, which is part of today as a national symbol: “the flag of the 33 Orientals”. This landing was an inspiration for the plastic artist Juan Manuel Blanes, capturing it in an oil painting 311 cm high x 564 cm high, which is exhibited in Montevideo at the Blanes Museum.
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