Country Code â€“ 598; City Code - 455
Altitude â€“ 23 meters
Population â€“ 11,000
Nueva Helvecia is located in the southeastern part of the district of Colonia. It was founded in the late 19th century by European immigrants, who mainly came from Switzerlandâ€“hence its other name, Colonia Suiza. The immigrants, also from Germany, Austria and France, came looking for a better place, away from the economic crisis and lack of work in their home countries. At that time, Uruguay offered both abundant land and opportunities.
The first immigrants began arriving in 1861, with the highest number of immigrants arriving on April 25 1862, known today as the townâ€˜s foundation day. Then, on May 26, 1894, Nueva Helvecia was officially declared a town.
With the enterprising spirit of the European settlers, along with their scientific knowledge, the area soon became known for its technological advancements. The townâ€™s hydraulic mills (today only remembered as historical relics), Uruguayâ€˜s first steam thresher and first operating steam mill, all testify to that. Nueva Helvecia was also Uruguayâ€™s first agricultural center, and became the countryâ€™s first touristic area, with the inauguration of the Hotel Suizo in 1872.
Today, Nueva Helvecia is best known for its cheeses, making the townâ€˜s main industry that of dairy production. Its cheeses and dairy products, such as butter, dulce de leche and other dairy by-products are widely known and favored.
Among the highlights of Nueva Helvecia are its main square,Plaza de los Fundadores, its many churches, the Regional Archive Museum, the Burnt Mill, the TeÃ³filo Karlen cheese factory, and Hotel Nirvana, one of Uruguayâ€˜s most famous hotels. Although Nueva Helvecia is known for its Swiss origin, there are only a few buildings and houses resembling those of Switzerland. However, you will notice that the streets are very clean and everything is very well organized.