The oldest café in Montevideo preserves its history as the city's bohemian hub.
This tiny cafe in Montevideo has played a bigger role in Uruguay’s history than its tiny size might indicate. Cafe Brasilero is the oldest cafe in the capital city, and has long been the center of its bohemian culture, attracting artists, writers, and musicians over its 140-year history.
Tango master and singer Carlos Gardel frequented the cafe, and author Juan Carlos Onetti etched part his first novel right into the cafe’s tables. Perhaps the most notable and longest patron was writer Eduardo Galeano, who visited the place every Wednesday for over 20 years. A large photo of him hangs at the cafe’s entrance.
Built in 1877, the Brazilian-themed cafe still retains much of its architectural history. The building has preserved its chairs, brass chandeliers and window frames outlining its Art Nouveau-style facade from that earlier era. The walls are also covered with photos, newspaper clippings, and paintings from the cafe’s past.
It’s a past that was almost lost. The cafe closed in the 1980s, and remained closed for decades until it reopened in 2010 with an eye on preserving its story. It later became the first cafe to be declared of cultural interest by the city of Montevideo.
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