Brasilia, Brazil

“Brasilia?! Oh, there is nothing to do there unless you are very interested in modernist architecture.” – so I was told by several people. I wouldn’t say I was, but wanted to see it anyway. I wanted to see the city that was built out of nothing in 41 months, that completely followed a designed plan and that was the fullfillment of a visionary idea of a new capital for Brazil. For around 200 years Rio de Janeiro was its capital, but located in the southeast region it was too far from the rest of the country. President Juscelino Kubitschek, fulfilling the promise of his political campaign and the country’s first republican constitution of 1891 (which stated that the capital should be moved to the center of the country), has ordered the construction of Brasilia in 1956. On the 21st of April 1960 it was inagurated.

Brasilia was built by urban planner Lucia Costa and chief architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed most of the public buildings. The city’s shape, proposed by Lucia Costa, resembles an airplane or a bird.  There are 2 axes: one along the fuselage of the plain and one along its wings. The first axis is called Eixo Monumental (Monumental Axis) – it is the central avenue of Brasilia where many  important government buildings and monuments are located. When you do a sightseeing tour of the city you are basically moving around these avenue. The second axis is curved and it is a residential area of the city.

View on Eixo Monumental
View on Eixo Monumental from television tower

Eixo monumental is huge: there are 6 lanes on each side of the avenue! Its first section is known as “Ministries Esplanade”, as it is surrounded by ministries buildings.

Esplanada dos Ministerios
Cathedral of Brasilia

Cathedral of Brasilia is very beautiful from the inside. I have never seen such a modernist religious building before, there is so much light and air! All the Gothic churches of Western Europe are so dark and some kind of oppressive, but here it was pure joy.

Cathedral of Brasilia
Cathedral of Brasilia

We were just walking around the main avenue and visiting all the attractions on the way …

Itamaraty palace – Ministry of external relations
Supreme federal court


National Congress

Another religious building of Brasilia that deeply impressed me was Santuario Dom Bosco. It is devoted to the Italian saint who dreamed of a utopian city. Brasilia was inspired by this dream. Its windows are made of Murano glass of different shades of blue, symbolizing a starry sky. It was my favorite place in Brasilia, so peaceful and charming …

Santuario Dom Bosco

In the end of the second day we followed the NY Times’ advice and went to Paranoa lake to chill and try SUP – stand up paddling! That was a fun ending of our 2 days in this futuristic city.

Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge

I can’t say that this is a place to visit for everyone but for me it was definitely worth coming here! So don’t listen to those people who tell you there is nothing to do in Brasilia =)

Last view from out hotel …


More about Brazil:

Sao Paulo

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