The Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape is a port area shaped for industrial production processes.
In 1899 a company called 'Anglo' started a meat packing plant here on the Uruguay River. It attracted immigrant workers from over 50 countries. The factory (then owned by Liebig) was closed down in 1979.
Map of Fray Bentos
- ●● Cultural
Nan Germany 03-Dec-16
Fray Bentos is situated at the first river crossing between Argentina and Uruguay of Rio Uruguay. The main town on the Argentinian side is Gualeguaychu. And that’s where I found myself stuck after my bus from Buenos Aires ran late. Again. As all other busses in Argentina. So I missed my connection. Instead I ended up hitchhiking across the border.
The town itself is a somewhat sleepy backwater nowadays. But this wasn’t always the case. While I was making my way to Barrio Ingles (English Quarter) I crossed several nice squares and buildings. For instance, Fray Bentos has a theatre, impressive for a town this size. The buildings could use some paint, but they point to the high time of the town when the meat processing plant was active.
The world heritage itself, the Barrio Ingles with the meat processing plant, is on the edge of town on the river for shipment. The plant used to supply the UK with food, the name being synonymous with corned beef. Fray Bentos was especially important during both World Wars. Operations were moved to the UK around 1960 and it’s astonishing to see how quickly the plant fell into disrepair. The brand, though, is still in use in the UK, most people not knowing what Fray Bentos actually refers to.
If you are looking for a great photo opportunity, Fray Bentos will deliver. There are plenty of great shots of ruins and decay to be taken. In addition you have great views of Rio Uruguay. As a world heritage site I am not fully convinced. The preservation of the site is poor, especially when you take into account that this is a 20th century site.
There are direct busses from both Montevideo (4:30h) and Colonia (4h). There are also busses from Buenos Aires, but these are night busses bound for Montevideo arriving at Fray Bentos at 2 a.m.
Alternatively, you can go from Buenos Aires to Gualeguaychu and try to cross the border/river from there. There is one daily bus connection between Gualeguaychu and Fray Bentos. If Argentinian busses were to run on time there would be a good connection. But they don’t. Ever. So either get a taxi. Or hitchhike (stand at northern junction).
To check bus schedules visit cut corporation.
The site is closed on Mondays as I came to learn. For certain parts you have to join a tour. Check their website. However, you can explore plenty from the outside. And if you are lucky, they don’t lock every door and you can sneak in. Not saying I did...
Assif Germany/Israel 14-Mar-16
When I first made up my mind to use my long holiday in Uruguay visiting my parents in law to visit Fray Bentos I couldn't resist the annoying thought of visiting a slaughterhouse as a vegetarian. It is still a part of culture and history, I told myself. Thankfully, however, Fray Bentos has a lot to it other than its indispensable share of death toll. The city is situated about 300 kms or four hours drive from Montevideo (the Uruguayan capital) and about the same distance from Buenos Aires. It is next to the closest bridge connectingto the two countries. The city isn't too big and you can easily walk from the city centre to Barrio Anglo which is the historic company town.
The cultural landscape includes not only the factory, but its adjacent buildings and the living quarter. You can book a guided tour to the Casa Grande, which was a typical manager residence, or to the factory complex (we did both). You can also join a guided bike tour through the entire residential area including the historic tennis court and golf course. At the factory there is a little museum, but visiting it would certainly not suffice for an overview of the complex. The factory is very large and includes (apart of the slaughter room) several machine rooms, offices and a lab, all of which are open to visitors. Outside you can see the water pump and cranes at the historic pier. The complex was very international with employees from 60 different countries. Its role in feeding soldiers in WWI and WWII so far away from the combatting countries makes it clear why Fray Bentos was nominated for representing modern globalisation.
The site is extensive and worthwhile exploring. It is very well preserved and well maintained. Further work on the complex is also underway. I would recommend booking all guided tours and take the time seeing it. We needed about 4 hours without walking to the more distant areas of the CL.
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Full name: Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape
Unesco ID: 1464
Criteria: 2 4
- 2015 - Inscribed
The site has 20 connections. Show all
- On National Border: Border with Argentina
- Human Migration: Most workers and residents were immigrants from 60 different countries
- River Ports: At the Uruguay River
- Locations for playing sport: historical tennis court at the residential area
- Company town: Barrio Anglo
- Botanical Gardens: at the Casa Grande
- Cremation: cremation of animal remains at the factory
- Scientific Developments: first place where beef extract was industrially applied
- Thanatourist destination: slaughter house
- Built in the 19th Century: From 1865 to 1924 Giebert developed the Liebig Extract of Meat Company Limited (LEMCO) producing meat extract and corned beef (AB ev)
- Named after individual people: "The name “Fray Bentos” entails a certain kind of uncertainty; nevertheless, it is generally agreed that it might derive from the surname of a Friar Bentos. It seems that this hermit religious monk settled down in the area today called Rincón de Haedo, where there is now a village bearing the same name. According to historians, he founded a settlement in this place which had to be abandoned in two opportunities due to the violent Indian raids led by a native called Iramundi. Historical versions lead us to justify the subsequent self-reclusion of the religious man in a grotto found in the area of Caracoles Creek, to the South of the site where the City of Fray Bentos stands today" (The town was originally created as "Villa Independencia" in 1859) Link
- Built or owned by British: Originally founded and built by the German "Liebig Extract of Meat Company" in 1863. It was acquired by the UK Vestey Group in 1924 when a new plant was built extending the product range from meat extract and corned beef to frozen meat. The factory was renamed "Frigorifico Anglo del Uruguay" also known as "El Anglo". "Small brick houses with thick walls running along the river's edge in Fray Bentos form the "Barrio Anglo," a city-within-a-city where meatpacking workers lived that featured a hospital, a school, a social club and a football squad" (Wiki)
- Built or owned by Germans: Originally founded and built by the German "Liebig Extract of Meat Company" in 1863.
- Golf Courses: Fray Bentos Golf Club Link
World Heritage Process
- Industrial Landscapes: Official name as inscribed is "Fray Bentos Industrial Landscape". The AB also describes it as a "Cultural Landscape" and comments "The Preface to the nomination dossier points out that the Latin American and Caribbean Group GRULAC agreed that Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape was the most representative of a great part of the historical development process in the American continent"
- Upstream process: Pilot project
- Relict Cultural Landscapes