Colonia is situated in the south west of Uruguay. Its capital town is Colonia Del Sacramento. Colonia was founded in 1680 by Portugal but was contested by the Spanish several times until the treaty of San Ildefonso in 1777 when it remained under Spanish rule until 1811. In 1817 the whole of Uruguay was transferred to Brazilian control and was renamed Cisplatina province. Colonia is now part of Uruguay and has expanded away from the river to the north and east, but the historic district of Colonia del Sacramento remains. The renowned historic quarter known as the ‘Barrio Historico’ is a World heritage Site. The older street plan remains whilst newer and wider streets have been built in the newer areas.
Colonia is around 89 feet (27m) above the Rio de la Plata, facing across the river to the more prosperous Buenos Aires. With its beautifully historic buildings, Colonia Del Sacramento is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay. It has 21,714 residents according 2004 statistics. Many visitors come to Colonia and in particular to the historic quarter, from Buenos Aires. There is a speedy hydrofoil service and several ferries run regularly across the Rio de la Plata which is within easy walking distance of the Barrio. Around the main square there is the lighthouse and ruins of the 17th century Convent of San Francisco; the city gate and wooden drawbridge; the basilica of the Holy Sacrament; the Iglesia Matriz which is the oldest city in Uruguay, and several historic houses and museums. Visitors can find accommodation in Colonia at EasyToBook.com, even budget hotels and money-saving deals.