Located on a high rocky point jutting over the sparkling water in Punta Ballena, Uruguay, sits the Casapueblo, a magical sculptured hotel/museum that is often mentioned as the Greek island of Uruguay, or, the Santorini of Latin America.
It is the structure’s Cycladic-inspired architecture, combined with Punta Ballena’s amazing sunset view that makes it look like a small village on the island of Santorini in Greece.
The structure that is a short 15-minute drive from Punta del Este, was built by the famous Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró. Today, it is a museum, art gallery, and hotel that welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
This complex looks like nothing else in South America. As you explore the winding cave-like corridors containing artifacts and unusual lighting, it gives you a mysterious feeling — and getting lost here is an entertaining experience. There are no room numbers on doors, since the hand-painted tiles on your key match your door tiles — each room is different.
The famous artist who was impressed by the Greek Islands architecture, built Casapueblo (meaning House of the People) as a homage to his son Carlitos Paez, one of the sixteen survivors of the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.
Built around a tin box called La Pionera (The Pioneer), Páez Vilaró designed it with a style that can be equated to the Cycladic architecture of Santorini.
A few years ago Páez Vilaró added a hotel called Hotel Casapueblo to the house, following the style of the original construction. It now includes a restaurant named Las Terrazas (The Terraces).
Carlos Paez Vilaro, who died on Feb. 24, 2013 in Casapueblo, had called his structure that also housed him until his death a “living sculpture.” He was a self-trained painter, sculptor, screenwriter, musician and architect who championed Afro-Uruguayan Candombe music and dance, created colorful murals in dozens of cities around the world.
His art allowed him to travel the world painting, sculpting, and above all creating. Among his many creations, Casapueblo was his sculpture in which it was possible to live, paint, and host the friends made in life and his travels.
According to the chronicles written inside Casapueblo, Carlos Páez Vilaró, without being an architect, was inspired by the ovenbirds and the countrymen who rely on adobe to build their houses. As a result of the sea, the Mediterranean style was inevitable, with its wide white balconies looking onto the horizon, the dawn and its seagulls.
Today, and for some time, Casapueblo has welcomed various personalities from the national and international scopes, mainly artists, painters and sculptors who revel in it. Conferences, presentations of books and events related to culture take place in its many rooms.
The workshop and museum of Casapueblo is open year round and visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world. Visit Casapueblo’s official website.