Fray Marcos is a little Uruguayan town located in the department of Florida, in the Central Interior. Home to 2,398 inhabitants, it is well known for its many economic activities and its camping site.
It is located in the south-east of the department, by the banks of the Santa Lucía River. It is 56 kilometers away from the capital city of the department (Florida).
The town’s origins date back to 1888, with the creation of a railway that connected Montevideo to Nico Pérez, in the lands of Ramón Latorre. This man gave his lands to the train company under the condition that the station had to have his name. The town was known by its inhabitants as Paso de Fray Marcos, a name that honoured a churchman who drowned there. The origin of this name is not historically confirmed, since there are no documents to prove it.
The train station’s name was changed after Ramon Latorre’s death, beginning to be known as Estación Fray Marcos. In 1913 the church and the flour mill were created, which permitted the development of the town, providing many job positions. In 1919 the location was officially declared a village. In 1943 the public school was founded by Dr. Ciro Giambruno, who was the Minister of Public Instruction and Social Welfare. He also donated the lands for the construction of the police station and the state clinic. It is because of all these actions that the main street of the town and the school carry his name. In 1956, Fray Marcos was declared a town. A tornado hit the town in 1970, killing eleven people. It was considered one of the biggest tornadoes of the country.
Nowadays, the town is economically important, full of different businesses and activities. There is a wool processing factory, a candy factory, plenty of poultry and tomato plantations, etc. Recently, an industrial park was created in the outskirts of town.
It is necessary to bring a tent in order to camp. Also, sunblock and insect repellent are essential items to achieve a full enjoyment of the place.
There is only one practical way to get to Fray Marcos, and it is by bus. There are different bus companies that leave from Montevideo and go to the town, so timetables are not a problem. Since it is not so far from the capital department, prices are not expensive, and the town can be approached in approximately an hour and a half.
Being a very small town, Fray Marcos does not have any kind of public transportation, but you can easily get anywhere on foot. All the important stores are on the main street, the same as the square and the school. The church is not near any of these, but it is easy to get there too.