History of Piriápolis

Don Francisco Piria was born on August 21, 1847 and did all kinds of things during his lifetime. A Jesuit monk, who was his paternal uncle, took him to Italy, where he studied and acquired knowledge about history and philosophy, mainly. At the age of 16, Piria went back to Uruguay and, shortly afterwards, he started his own business and founded the Old Montevideo Market, which he kept until 1875. Then, he devoted himself to the sale of manors in Montevideo, which made him responsible for the physiognomy of Montevideo through the construction of seventy neighborhoods. Last but not least, Piria also had time for literature and journalism and he created the liberal newspaper of those days, which he came to call “La Tribuna Popular” (The People’s Grandstand).

In 1890, this man founded an agricultural and industrial venue in the surroundings of the Sugar Loaf Mountain where he found these good lands he would come to call "Piriápolis", the tourist city par excellence for him. Little by little, he began to consider a city opposite the sea in a way more than interesting for the period. This was materialized through the various constructions, many of them millionaire. On August 17, 1897, el Castillo (the Castle) was inaugurated. It used to be the residence of Mr. Piria himself.

Seven years later, the Gran Hotel Piriápolis and the majesty of its architecture and furniture exclusively brought from Italy soon became the talk of town. This gorgeous hotel accommodated the first tourists in the country in the times in which the word “tourism” did not have the same meaning it has today.

In 1930, Piriápolis was already a big city and it received the distinctive touch still missing: the Gran Hotel Argentino was inaugurated. It could lodge 1,200 people. The greatest structure in those days. Today, it is the icon of the city.