A Photo Essay
Only city built in the 20th Century listed as a UNESCO World Heritage, Brasilia is fascinating, disturbing and intimidating alike:
- Fascinating, as this is a clear proof of the strength of strong political visions and voluntarism. Creating from scratch a new capital city and by doing so creating new models of urbanism is a unique example in History. Surely the strong cooperation between Juscelino Kubitschek, the President of Brasil, Lucio Costa, the Urbanist who created the “master plan”, Oscar Niemeyer, the famous architect, and last but not least Burle Marx, the landscape architect resulted in a city, shaped as an airplane, that has no equivalent in the world…
- Intimidating at first sight, with its 6 or even 12 lanes city highways shaping the city and linking thematic districts (bank district, hotel district, commercial district…). Moreover, the system of adresses, if very logical once you understood it, is completely disorientating when you arrive.
- Last but not least, disturbing because anachronic, as Brasilia clearly shows the limits of this urbanism of the 1950s and 1960s solely based on cars. Yes, Brasilia was designed with the clear idea that everyone has or will have a car. Without your own wheels, moving around this city is a major challenge and reveals very limitative.
There is much to do in Brasilia, and if you want to scratch bellow the surface, you will need several days to start grasping this futuristic yet anachronic city, in the heart of Brazil – An the best part of it: you will be the only non-Brazilean tourist!
- Orientate yourself through the different “thematic districts”
Each district has its specific function and hosts a specific kind of buildings: ministeries, banks, private companies (commercial sector), sport clubs… And last but not least appartment complexes. You will not fully grasp Brasilia as long as you haven’t fully integrated this system and as long as you aren’t able to navigate through the various parts of this “Airplane”. This is where a car will be most important! Be ready to get lost, though…
- Sample some of Oscar Niemeyer’s finest architecture
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho (1907 – 2012), better known as Oscar Niemeyer, is undoubtedly Brazil’s Maestro, famous for his modern, if not futuristic, partly Bauhaus-inspired architecture. His name is deeply intertwined with Brazil’s capital city, of which he was one of the masterminds and where he designed some of the most famous buildings:
- Museu Nacional
- Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida
- Congresso Nacional
- Complexo Cultural da República or Bilioteca Nacional
- Palácio da Alvorada
- Palácio do Planalto
- Supremo Tribunal Federal
- Museu dos Povos Indigenas
- Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
- Discover the other iconic buildings of this city
Nevertheless, not all amazing buildings were designed by Oscar Niemeyer! Some of them are absolute “Must-Sees” in Brasilia…
- Santuario Dom Bosco
- Palacio do Itamaraty
- Palacio da Justica
- Panteao da Patria e da Libertade Tancredo Neves
- Memorial JK
- JK Bridge
- Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro
- Experience “another Brasilia” at night
Most of the official buildings are illuminated at night and create hence a completely new atmosphere to the city. With impressive police presence even in the evening, you can stroll those places that you discovered during in day in a completely different atmosphere, with no thoughts about security, even if you carry an expensive camera and a not very discrete Tripod… A great photo opportunity!
- Discover the “neighborhood life”
If the administrative and economic districts are set in the “Boddy of the Airplane”, the “Housing Districts” are forming the “Wings of the Airplane”. Simply put, this is were people actually live… Each housing square is bordered by a “commercial part” with shops, supermarkets, restaurants, bars, or whatever you need in the everyday life. This is where things happen and this is where you should go to discover “real life” in Brasilia. Avois Sundays, when everything is closed…
- Get a view from above
The view from the platform of the Television Tour, 75 meters high, surely gives a good perspective on the Eixo Monumental. This view is especially spectacular at sunset, when the city gets illuminated. Nevertheless, if you really want to get a view of the “Plane Shape” of Brasilia, you will have to hop on a helicopter and dish out around 150 Euros for 10 minutes. I did the first, but skipped the latter.
- Discover Brasil’s new Shopping Center Frenzy
There are many ultra-modern shopping centers in the heart of Brasilia. No, they are nothing special, and they you could be about everywhere in the world… But this is obviously THE place to be: those places are packed, especially on weekends, with people of all ages, shopping, eating, just wandering around…
- Follow the public fervor on the Independance Day, September 7th
No, I didn’t plan to be there on Independence Day. I actually did not know that September 7th was Brazil’s Independence Day… The day before, a guide at the Palacio Itimaraty gave the news. Surprise, surprise… But I happened to be there, so why not enjoy the show?
At around 07:30 am I left the hotel, and simply followed the crowd to one of the many tribunes, was given a small Brazilean flag, and waited one hour for the military parade to start… I am neither a specialist nor a fan of such events, but the most stunning was definitely the fervor shown by the crowd around me and the enthusiamsm for the event! A very special, joyful atmosphere…
- Join families on weekends on the banks of Lake Paranoa
I just wanted to take a few pictures of JK Bridge, of course got lost, and by chance found a way to the shores of Lake Paranoa (Lago Sul). And found a beach full of people enjoying their Sunday. Of course you find there all you need for a perfect day at the beach!
Brasilia Top 10 Attractions
While paying a visit in Brasilia a number of great attractions exist that you should be aware of to possibly plan into your trip. The popular Federal District locality of Brazil has sights and sounds you may know and maybe others that are not known to people from outside the area of Brasilia we have put together a Top 10 list to help you on your way:
1. Banco do Brasil Cultural Centre
2. Santuario Dom Bosco
3. Catedral Metropolitana
4. Itamaraty Palace
5. Pontao do Lago Sul
6. Juscelino Kubitschek Memorial
7. Museu de Valores
8. Congresso Nacional
9. Salto do Itiquira waterfall
10. JK Bridge
These are a simple starting point if you have taken a quality guide book you can delve further and depending how much time you have in Brasilia. You will surely discover an array of interesting locations and attractions in the Brasilia area of Brazil.
Thanks for sharing, Norma!