The Capital city of Uruguay with 1.9 million inhabitants, Montevideo bears witness to a rich literary history linked to the city’s geographic position as one of the major ports in Latin America. The exchange of culture and traditions has always nourished Montevideo’s literary movements, starting with the Creole theatre influencing the Gaucho literature. As the home town of many renowned writers, including Mario Benedetti and Juan Carlos Onetti, the city was once referred to as the “Athens of the Rio de la Plata”, and since then, literature has remained the main driver of its creative economy and a key enabler of intercultural and intergenerational dialogue.
Adding to its literary heritage, Montevideo hosted the very first Poetry Festival in Uruguay with the participation of nearly 150 poets from all around the world. Besides literary activities, the city places particular emphasis on cross-cutting approaches, envisioning literature as a socio-cultural nexus. Many initiatives involve the wide participation of both young people and the elderly, as well as reaching vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and individuals. In particular, the Bibliomóvil and the Ceibal Plan foster social inclusion and equity by providing access to information and communications technology (ICT), and the ability for all to learn and appreciate reading and writing.
The municipality ensures equal opportunities for creators both at local and international levels by enhancing spaces of dialogue and exchange programmes. The City and Books programme organizes regular indoor and outdoor meetings between authors and readers, while the Writers House offers residency programmes to foreign writers. Montevideo is committed to giving new momentum to, and sustaining, its longstanding book culture and literary tradition by putting culture at the core of its local development plans.
As a Creative City of Literature, Montevideo envisages:
- improving access to literary works and promoting reading by establishing a network of libraries to be set throughout the city’s public spaces;
- establishing literary tours retracing the lives and works of Montevideo’s major literary figures;
- positioning the city as an international model for literature, notably by displaying the city’s literary legacy through the online Uruguayan Book and Writers Museum; and
- fostering the mobility of writers and the exchange of experiences with other Creative Cities of Literature.