Brasilia – Welcome to the Future

Brasilia

Brazil is one of only a few countries to have a purpose-built capital city, and such creations aren’t always the most inspiring destinations. Few people have Canberra on their ‘must see’ list when visiting Australia, for example, while few people outside of Burma have even heard of the official capital, Naypyidaw. In Brazil they do things differently, however, and everyone should make sure their holidays in Brazil include at least some time in the bizarre futurist city of Brasilia.

Brazilian rulers had often dreamed of creating a new city in the interior of the country, opening up the vast lands of the serrao and freeing themselves from the whims and caprices of the coastal elites in Rio and Sao Paulo. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that these dreams became a reality under then-President Kubitschek.

He didn’t so much want to build a city as create a vision for Brazil’s future, and so he contracted the modernist architect, Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lucio Costa to make his vision a reality. Although the project was criticised at the start, and although the new capital initially proved unpopular, today Brasilia is one of the fastest-growing cities in Brazil and a source of real pride to Brazilians.

Brasilia is also becoming popular with tourists looking to give their holidays in Brazil something different to the usual beach and jungle combination. Anyone who is at all interested in architecture will love a trip to Brasilia, and you can spend several days enjoying all the sights. The first stop is usually the grand Plaza dos Tres Poderes, which stands at the heart of the city, and is flanked on three sides by the major official buildings, all designed in the characteristic Niemeyer style.

The towering twin white skyscrapers and shallow bowl of the Houses of Congress are in many ways the iconic image of Brasilia, designed to form a modern, secular counterpoint to Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue. Perhaps more than any other building in Brasilia, they epitomise the ‘Buck Rogers’ spirit of the city – a kind of 1960s vision of what the future might bring.

The Houses of Congress are flanked by two other Niemeyer creations, the Supreme Court and the Presidential Palace, but these won’t take up too much of your time. Instead, walk a few minutes south to the National Cathedral, which is arguably the architect’s finest work. Resembling a cross between a giant wigwam and an alien spaceship, the Cathedral’s is impressive from the outside, but the interior is truly breathtaking and one of the few truly great modern churches, architecturally speaking.

Another spot popular with both locals and those visiting Brasilia as part of their holidays in Brazil, is the large and lovely Lake Paranoá. Created to bring a large source of water to the arid serrao, the lake is also a favoured leisure destination and so you can swim, jet-ski or wind-surf to your heart’s content. It is crossed by one of the major new (and non-Niemeyer) additions to the city’s architectural heritage, the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, more commonly known as the JK Bridge. For some superb views across the city you can walk on the pedestrian walkway of the bridge right into the middle of the lake.

As well as all the architectural highlights on offer, as the capital Brasilia is also host to some of Brazil’s best cultural attractions, such as the National Library and the National Museum of the Republic. Tourists are often also surprised by the quality and variety of the nightlife on offer, although the high prices can be a bit of a shock! All in all, it’s well worth making time during your holidays in Brazil for a quick trip to Brasilia, and with a growing number of international flight connections, you could even start or end your Brazil holiday right here!

Jackson
Hello everyone, I’m Anthony Jackson, a passionate traveler always eager to explore the fascinating corners of our world. I joined this team with a mission to share my travel experiences and tips, aiming to provide you with memorable and exciting journeys.
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