Sunday, December 04, 2005

Places, Canelones, Atlantida, El águila

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Uruguay Canelones Atlantida El águila The eagle shadow There is one weird building standing in the Uruguayan coast of Canelones, Atlantida.

If you have time to do some beach walking, starting from Atlantida’s calm beach, (“la playa mansa”) and heading west you’ll notice after a five minute walk, this rock among the pine trees coastline. In no time you’ll realize it’s the head of an eagle you’re looking at.

This building is one of Uruguay Canelones Atlantida El águilathe typical sights of Atlantida, and in my mind it’s been there since forever. The whole construction is shrouded in a haze of myths, about its origins and purposes. The most spread one is that it was built as a Nazi watch post, in the Second World War to monitor the river plate river. It’s a known fact that there were Nazis in the river plate region during the Second World War, and the eagle shape help the mystery gain credibility.Uruguay Canelones Atlantida El águila the eagle I must admit that there’s something elegant and surreal to an eagle shaped rock constantly watching the horizon, it feels as some old civilization ruin left over (it helped the fact that until one year ago the place actually was in ruins, the thing was a wreck).

Uruguay Canelones Atlantida El águila the eagleOne year ago the national tourism office realized something had to be done about it falling apart, and restored it, at least partially. In restoring it, they also killed the myths as now you can read posts telling the official construction’s story. It seems in the year 1945 one Italian rich guy called Michelizzi owner of one seaside house, ordered the construction of a small shrine by the beach, to consecrate it to the virgin. The constructor in charge, named Torres, built something twice as large as indicated and when Mr Michelizzi saw the place, and the view it had, he decided to dedicate it to reading, and painting instead, and as a whim he ordered the construction of an eagle on top of it, covered in stones as feathers. When it was finished he liked it so much that the he told Torres to continue his work building something in the shape of a naval ship underneath. Michelizzi died in 1957, and the sea completely destroyed the ship part of the building, leaving only the eagle.

Uruguay Canelones Atlantida El águila coastline

Although now I know the true story, I can’t help thinking of it surrounded in mysterious plots of war, spies, and a time that is no more.

Uruguay Canelones Atlantida El águila the eagleNow it’s open to the public, you can go in it, walk up the stairs and appreciate the view from within the eagle’s head. They even light it up at night, in a way that it seems it has its eyes opened.

Uruguay Canelones Atlantida view