The Hidden Treasures of San Carlos in Uruguay

San Carlos located only 20 minutes from Punta del Este receives celebrities and foreigners during summer 2014.

During this summer celebrities spend the mornings in San Carlos looking for unique antiques, iron and metal pieces from traditional welders, crystal and expertly made craft wood for their houses and chacras near the sea.

Siesta time

The plaza of San Carlos has a little bar like many in the interior of Uruguay with walls full of antique objects and an old cash machine that is still in use. During the siesta hours when temperature rises up to 30 degrees celsius, the whole town seems asleep. But on cloudy afternoons it is normal to see plenty of foreigners spending the day in San Carlos. It is hard to imagine celebrities like Shakira, Roberto Giordano or Francis Mallman visiting such a quiet place.

If the trendiest places are in Punta del Este, La Barra or José Ignácio, why would they come to a quiet place far away from the crowd? Like many other celebrities, Europeans, Americans, Argentines and Brazilians venture into the cobblestone streets of San Carlos to find antique treasures for their summer homes and chacras near the ocean.

Most of the 28,000 habitants of San Carlos live from the tourist activities in summer and construction work in winter. The majority commutes to work at hotels, buildings and shops of Punta del Este. This is why the town seems empty during most part of the day allowing visitors to stroll without any hurry along the empty streets.

In the past decades San Carlos was mostly famous for the specially woven jerseys of excellent quality but this factory closed down. In recent years, different places have gathered old furniture and decorative items from the vast territory of Maldonado. Many old farms from the area have been sold to new owners and antique pieces are stored in several auction shops of San Carlos waiting for their new owners.

Auctions, Welders and Carpenters in San Carlos

The most popular auction places are Dogomar Martínez, Torres Remates and La Forcheta. The trend of the region of Maldonado is to find unique pieces with a certain old style country look for summer homes by the sea. Auctions are not the only popular stores, the restorers also work proudly on the selected pieces and adapt them for new destinations. 

Torres Remates San Carlos
Torres Remates San Carlos

Welders and carpenters are kept busy restoring pieces or creating new ones. The peak months are between November and February. Francis Mallmann bought all the decoration for his hotel in Garzón at the Herrería Díaz in San Carlos. Iron gates, stairs, original fountains and garden decoration are scattered all around the shop and tempting any person passing by to imagine how they would look at their homes. Lazaga nearby, is also another factory of original creations including furniture and house decoration. During the year he travels around Uruguay finding interesting items for his clients.



Very near Lazaga, but in direction to the center of San Carlos, an expert in window making busily restores old glass panels and unique crystal lamps. Sena Cristales has also expanded to Maldonado and Montevideo due to the great demand.

Another very much searched item is leather. Talabarteria Benitez attends plenty of foreigners who live on nearby farms, who are looking for saddles, leather boots, bag ponchos, and gaucho attire.

Talabarteria Benitez, San Carlos
Talabarteria Benitez, San Carlos

Furniture for hotels such as the Conrad hotel or for restaurants like La Bourgogne is the specialty of the craftmen of Mueblería Batista.

These are some of the reasons why celebrities end up strolling freely along the streets of San Carlos. Many can be seen sitting and relaxing at the Plaza Café enjoying an expresso before they head home.

More land will change hands in the northern and eastern region of Maldonado and this will undoubtedly benefit the city of San Carlos.

For information on how to obtain more info about San Carlos or other communities in the area please contact us. 

Mary Ann Thompson

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