Unveiled as the new capital of Brazil in 1960, Brasilia is a modern planning marvel and forms the shape of an airplane from above. The Oscar Niemeyer designed architecture helped secure a coveted UNESCO World Heritage listing in a city which boasts a tantalising array of sights and things to do – so why not explore Brasilia this year?
Admire the Modernist Architecture
Built in a remarkable four years, Brasilia is a modern town planners’ absolute fantasy – and at the heart of the project were Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. Their legacy is evident right across Brazil’s capital city - which replaced Rio de Janeiro in 1960. Niemeyer designed countless buildings across residential, commercial and government – don’t miss the elegantly curved Palácio da Alvorada, admire the stark National Congress of Brazil, take in the exquisite multi-pillared Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha Stadium (which will co-host the 2014 FIFA Wold Cup) and make your own mind up about the Cathedral of Brasília which is said to resemble a fruit bowl. The ingenuity of design and execution earnt Brasilia a UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1987. If you get the opportunity to view the city from above – take it – and admire the pre-planned layout which resembles an airplane.
Check out Brasilia’s Museums
Although there are no major museums in Brasilia, a superb clutch of smaller museums, art galleries and theatres helped the city to secure the American Capital of Culture honour in 2008. There’s something here for all tastes, from the intriguing notes and coins on display within the Museu de Valores inside Brazil’s central bank, to the Museu Nacional housed within a cyber-esque dome. Then there’s the superb Brasilia Arts Museum and the interesting Espaco Niemeyer.
Explore Brasilia’s Iconic Landmarks
There are a couple of seriously iconic landmarks in Brasilia including the Three Powers Square, which is highly symbolic. Known as the Praça dos Três Poderes, the tips of the axis represent Congress, Presidential Palace and Supreme Court – the three greatest authorities within the country. The axis was built so that on Tiradentes Day (21 April) the sun rises in direct alignment between the congress towers. Incidentally Tiradentes day marks the day that Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, an independence martyr, died and the country celebrates the icon.
The two abstract figures, resplendent in bronze, is known as Os Candangos (pictured above), aka The Warriors, and depicts the city’s pioneering figures of Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. Created in 1959 by Bruno Giorgi, the statue stands at eight meters tall.
Make sure to stop by the curious Brasilia Cathedral which opened in 1970 and is a real testament to modernist design. It features sixteen curved pillars which weigh 90 tons, inlaid with ornate stained-glass windows.
And finally the breathtaking Palácio da Alvorada, known locally as the Palace of Dawn, is unlike any other palace you’ve ever seen. Typifying the modern architecture movement, this low-lying gem was created in 1958 by Oscar Niemeyer. This is the official residence of the President and its iconic arches are considered icons of Brasilia.
Image credit; José Cruz/Agência Brasil CC BY 3.0 BR
Map credit: Wikitravel