The sunset from Casapueblo – a Punta classic

An artist's cliff-hugging summer house literally grew and grew as he expanded it to host friends such as Brigitte Bardot.
By Karen A Higgs

Artist Carlos Páez Vilaró built his world-famous Casa Pueblo home and atelier on a rocky peninsula called Punta Ballena

Punta Ballena is a rocky peninsula where the sierra plunges into the ocean. The area was settled by Lussich, a shipping magnate who built himself a mansion on the point with an immaculate view over the bay.

However the point was so exposed to the Atlantic winds that his wife issued an ultimatum—do something about the wind or she’d blow out taking the family with her. In response, he planted hundreds of thousands of trees and what would become the second largest arboretum in South America.

Casapueblo – a habitable scuplture

Years later in 1958 Carlos Páez Vilaró (1923-2014) bought a large plot of virgin land on the peninsula. He claimed that at the time a square foot of the land cost the price of a packet of cigarettes.

Páez Vilaró was a Uruguayan abstract artist, sculptor and friend to Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot. Initially he built himself a small summer house on the side of the cliff. Then as he needed more space, particularly when friends came to stay, he built an extension. Eventually Casapueblo became a breathtaking thirteen-storey white-washed citadel staggered down the side of the peninsula. Páez Vilaró called it a habitable sculpture made in the style of the hornero, a native bird which builds cave-like nests from mud.

The Sun Ceremony at sundown – a must when in Punta del Este

Now open to the public, you can visit the gallery and café and enjoy a marvelous view over the Atlantic. The Sun Ceremony, an audio recording of the artist bidding the sun farewell, plays every day on the terrace and is a Punta classic.

More reading

Páez Vilaró was father to one of the survivors of the 1972 plane disaster where sixteen young men survived almost seventy days in terrible conditions in the Andes mountains. The tribute Andes 1972 museum in Montevideo is one our favourite things to do in Montevideo.

He was also a candombe enthusiast. Playing drums in the Montevideo Llamadas parade right up until the year of his death.



The story of the Andes plane crash survivors is one of the great human survival stories of the Twentieth Century.

Andes 1972 Museum

The museum, in Montevideo, honours the survivors of the Andes plane crash. Yes, one of the greatest survival stories of the 20th century is Uruguayan.


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