Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Uruguay - Ministerio de Transporte y Obras Públicas (MTOP) (Ministry of Transportation and Public Works)

The Society of Jesus –a Catholic order– was the largest owner of slaves during the initial period of Montevideo and the countryside until their expulsion in 1767. This situation was common in the rest of the continent, since religious congregations owned slaves that worked in dissimilar establishments, from cattle ranches in Cordoba to sugar plantations in Bahia. The congregations sustained their religious and educational activities economically based on slave labour. The Jesuit residence of Montevideo with its rooms, courtyards and estate was the first place charged and criticized by the Spanish colonial authorities due to the celebrations of the people of African descent that took place there, in the centre of the old Montevideo. Likewise, there were slaves in the Jesuit mill that today gives its name to a neighbourhood of the Uruguayan capital: Paso del Molino. Once the Society of Jesus was expelled from Spanish territories, around fifty slaves that had belonged to them stayed in Montevideo and in its rural areas, and they were the most significant black population nucleus to the south of the Eastern Bank.As to historical research, this site is linked to the extension of a study on the first generation of slaves and free descendants who arrived in Montevideo before the viceroyalty period (1777-1812).

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The premises where once stood the Ranch of the Jesuits are at present occupied by the building of the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works. Contact could be sought with the institution to see the possibility of devoting a space in the ground floor, that is already an exhibition hall, or to do something else, like integrating the site in the historic-tourist tour of the Old City of Montevideo. Likewise, through contacts with the Ministry of Tourism with the Municipal City Hall of Montevideo efforts could be coordinated towards the same objectives. The space could be devoted to contextualize the experience of slavery in the ranches with two central themes: the slaves in the large religious establishments in Latin America, and the first generation of slaves arrived in Montevideo.

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Other data of interest


Historical name

Ranchería de los Jesuitas (Jesuitic Ranch)

Founding Date

1749-1767 (date of operation)


Esquina de las calles Rincón e Ituzaingó (Montevideo). No quedan restos materiales visibles. Actualmente en el sitio se levanta una construcción donde funciona el Ministerio de Transporte y Obras Públicas / Esquina de las calles Rincón e Ituzaingó (Montevideo). There are no material remains visible. At present there is a building which lodges the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works.  

Phone numbers

+598 2 915 83 33

Web link




Religious-ceremonial site Settlement

Access level


Current Use

Public building, offices.

Original use

Jesuit residence of Montevideo

Property kind