Is Pan de Azúcar Worth a Detour for its Murals?
Whenever we hear or read about a place known for public art, be it sculpture, traditional murals, or contemporary street art, we usually make an effort to go there. If our guide book, the South America Handbook from Footprint, mentions murals along our way we sit up and take notice.
After experiencing Carnival in Montevideo we spent some time relaxing along the east coast of Uruguay. Then we were ready to drive towards Tacuarembó, in the central north of Uruguay, to attend the famous gaucho festival . Just inland from Maldonado is the small town of Pan de Azúcar – and for this place we had found a mention of murals in our Footprint.
The town gets its name from a nearby hill of the same name; translated it means ‘sugar loaf’, a name you find in many places. The town itself is very small and laid back. There’s not even a tourist information office, where we had hoped to learn more about the murals and in which streets we could be find them.
That there is no tourist information is a shame because I had read somewhere that many of these murals were created by well-known artists. An online search didn’t reveal anything significant so I was hoping to get more information in town. As a layman, my impression was that some of these murals look like the artists were more used to working on canvas than large walls.
So we parked right at the main town square and started to wander around. Somehow we lost any sort of systematic approach due to the fact that the typical street grid isn’t continuous in Pan de Azúcar.
We weren’t all that inspired either because many of the street art pieces we found were in a sorry state, with paint peeling or faded. It appears as if some were applied almost twenty years ago and left to deteriorate without any upkeep. Thankfully, in between, you can discover a few more recent pieces with colours still bright and inspiring.
Overall we left with the impression that yes, there is a good amount of street art to be seen in Pan de Azúcar, but it’s not so exciting that we would recommend a long detour to see it. It’s a nice enough stop if you are driving the highway from Montevideo to Punta del Este. Or maybe we were just too spoilt by the experience of the murals in 25 de Agosto …
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