It was endowed by its founder with a cabildo (corporation) and full Spanish municipal privileges.
The city contains a large number of handsome edifices, both public and private, among which are the Bolsa, Government House, municipal hall, cathedral, Cabildo, Hospital de Caridad, insane asylum, Italian hospital, Teatro Solis, Athenaeum, and the Club Uruguayo.
The Bolsa (exchange), custom-house, cathedral, and Cabildo are in the old town; the Bolsa is a copy of the Bordeaux exchange.
Side of the Huatenay are two more fine squares, called the Cabildo and San Francisco.
Another short line connects Cabildo, in the valley of the Ligua, with the state railway.
Directly across the plaza is the old Cabildo, a plain, heavy-looking two-storeyed edifice of the colonial period, the seat of municipal administration during Spanish rule, but now occupied by the two chambers of the Uruguayan Congress and by the higher police authorities of the city.
In 1809 risings took place in Venezuela, in Ecuador, in Upper Peru and in the Argentine; the revolutionary fever spread to Chile, and on the 18th of September 1810 the cabildo of Santiago secured the resignation of the governor and vested his powers in an elected Junta (board) of seven members.
Among its buildings are the cathedral, dating from 1553 and once noted for its wealth; the president's palace and halls of congress, which are no longer occupied as such by the national government; the cabildo, or town-hall; a mint dating from 1572; the courts of justice, and the university of San Xavier, founded in 1624, with faculties of law, medicine and theology.