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February 22, 2008

Brasilia - The Capital of Brazil


Brasília - The Capital of Brazil

The Brazilian capital is the only city in the world built in the 20th century to be considered, since 1987, a Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco, an UN agency. And there are plenty of reasons for such renown: the young city, inaugurated in 1960, surprises even the most experienced travelers.


Brasília is located in the Federal District, in the central area of Brazil – the true heart of the Country -, in the State of Goiás. It was not projected just for the sake of being a new capital city. It stands out, in worldwide terms, for expressing the application of the principles established in the Letter of Athens, from 1943 - integrated into a national self-determination and development strategy.

Brasília is the result of a modern urban project designed by Lúcio Costa. If seen from above, the city’s pilot plan resembles the shape of an airplane – many prefer to refer to it as a bird with open wings –, although the architect’s original urban concept appointed to the shape of a cross, to symbolize possession. The city’s project is up to this day a world reference when the issue is urban planning. The idea of spreading residential buildings around expansive urban areas, of tracing the city plan around large avenues and dividing it into sectors, has produced an intense debate and reflections on life in big cities in the 20th century.

The city hosts also a varied assortment of art works from great artists like Bruno Giorgi, Alfredo Ceschiatti, Athos Bulcão, Marienne Peretti, Volpi, Di Cavalcanti, Victor Brecheret and Burle Marx whose works have been integrated into the city’s architecture, making of it an unique landscape.

A scenario for political events, music performances and movie festivals, Brasília is a cosmopolitan city, with around 90 embassies, a wide range of restaurants and complete infrastructure ready to host any kind of event. Not surprisingly, the city stands out as an important business tourism destination, which is a raising segment of the local economy, crowding dozens of hotels spread around the national capital. Brasília has a little bit of every corner of Brazil. Building a national capital in the heart of the Country required a large workforce and attracted people from all corners of the national territory.



The Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, it was inaugurated in 1970. With a round shape, and being structured around 16 curved pillars filled with beautiful stained glass works, designed by Marianne Peretti – their disposition ensures natural lighting into the aisle, built below street level.

Around the church, in the outside area, visitors can see Alfredo Ceschiatti’s sculptures – the four evangelists – and inside, suspended angels. There are also paintings by Di Cavalcanti, representing the stages of the Passion of Christ, and paintings by Athos Bulcão. The Cathedral is located in the Monumental Axle, at the entry of the Ministries Plateau. It is opened daily from 8 am to 7:30 pm. Information: +55 (61) 224-4073. Visits are not allowed during masses.

The Dom Bosco Sanctuary
It is surrounded by 16-meter high arches that support immense stained glass works with many tones of blue. Filled with lighter points of blue, they give viewers the impression of seeing a star spangled sky and of changing places according to the position of the Sun. The central chandelier contains 7,400 Murano glass cups. The Sanctuary was inaugurated in 1963 and is located on Avenue W3 south, court 702. Information: +55 (61) 223-6542. Visits are allowed from Monday thru Friday from 7 am to 7 pm, and on Sundays, from 7 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 8 pm.

The Temple of the “Legião da Boa Vontade” (Good Will Legion)
Open 24 hours a day, the construction in the shape of a pyramid has its floors decorated with granite spirals. On the temple’s top ceiling, a 40-cm and 21-Kg crystal stone renders a positive energy to the temple, as idealized by its designers. There is also an Egyptian Room, an art gallery and a gifts store. It is located in the Great Areas South Sector (SGAS), court 915. Information: +55 (61) 245-1070.

The Central Bank’s Values Museum
It offers a permanent exhibition of national and foreign coins and paper money. It also hosts an exhibition on gold mining showing the largest gold stone found in Brazil, weighing 62 kg. The Museum is located in the Headquarter Building of the Brazilian Central Bank – Banking Sector South (SBS), court 3, block B. Information: +55 (61) 414-2093. It is opened for visits from Tuesday thru Friday, from 10 am to 5: 30 pm and on Saturdays, from 2 pm to 6 pm.

The JK Memorial
As a highlight of the Monumental Axle area, this is a homage to the conceiver and founder of Brasilia, President Juscelino Kubitschek. The memorial’s halls host the museum – with pictures, documents and personal objects related to the life of JK - and the Mortuary Chamber, with the ex-president’s tomb. It is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 6 pm. It is located in the Monumental Axle, on Cruzeiro Plaza. Information: +55 (61) 225-9451.

National Museum of Gems
It hosts a permanent exhibition of Brazilian gems and crystals. It is located inside the TV Tower Panoramic Hall, in the Monumental Axle. It is opened from Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Saturdays, from 10 am to 4 pm. Information: +55 (61) 323-1881.

Banco do Brasil Cultural Center – CCBB
It hosts temporary exhibits, art shows and theater and dance shows. It also hosts a snack bar, a gifts store and an auditorium, where this Cultural Center hosts debates on a wide range of issues, including reading tables and other events. It is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 12 pm to 9 pm. It is located in the Sports Clubs Sector South (SCES), section 2, lot 22. It is close to the JK Bridge and to the Brasilia Tennis Academy. Information: +55 (61) 310-7087.

The Press Museum
This museum’s greatest highlight is the printing press used by the famous Brazilian writer, Machado de Assis, who worked as book printer during his youth. There are also exemplars of the Official Daily in which the “Lei Áurea” (the Law ending with slavery in Brazil) and the Republic Proclamation Act were published in the late 19th century. It is opened from Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. It is located in the Graphic Industry Sector (SIG), court 6, lot 800. Information: +55 (61) 441-9619.

Indigenous Peoples Memorial
It hosts indigenous utilitarian – such as ceramics, vessels and hammocks – and ritual – “cocares” (head accessories used by Brazilian tribes) and collars – works made by indigenous tribes from all over Brazil. The museum is opened from Tuesday to Friday, from 9 am o 5 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. It is located in the Monumental Axle, on Buriti Square, just across the JK Memorial. Information: +55 (61) 226-5206.

The City Park – Sarah Kubitschek
Located inside the city’s Pilot Plan, the “Parque da Cidade” (City Park”), extends over four million square meters. It includes landscape works of Burle Marx, and wall tiles that decorate restrooms in the Park designed by Athos Bulcão. Equipped with sports courts, a horse track, a racing kart track, skate tracks, playgrounds for children, bicycle tracks and trails for walks and jogging, the City Park attracts hundreds of people everyday, specially on weekends. The Park’s main entrance is located in the Monumental Axle South, but there are secondary exits that lead to other areas in the city’s South Wing. Information: +55 (61) 325-1092.

The Brasilia Botanical Gardens
It was founded in March 1985 and since then has been through many reformation works to comply with its original philosophical – to be a sample of the “cerrado” (the dry pasture vegetation typical of Central Brazil) landscape -, and technical requirements – to become a space dedicated to research, environmental education and leisure for the city’s population. It offers to visitors the typical vegetation of the “cerrado” area, trails for walks, a belvedere, from where visitors can see almost all the park’s area, and a Visitors Center, which offers support and information those interested in knowing its attractions. There are, for instance, gardens with native and exotic plants, all of which are identified with signaling tags, including also some areas for picnics. It is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm. It is located in the Dom Bosco Mansions Sector, complex 12, South Lake – access through the road leading to the city of Unaí. Information: +55 (61) 366-2141. Each visitor must pay a fee to get in, at a symbolic low price.

The Brasilia National Park
It extends over 30 thousand hectares. It is known by locals as “Água Mineral” (Mineral Water) – due to its springs and pools of running water formed out of water pools that emerge from the margins of Acampamento Stream. Besides its natural pools, there is also two trails for walks: the Capivara Trail, being 1,3 km long, and which may be covered in 20 minutes; and the Cristal Água Trail, which requires an one-hour walk to cover its 5-km extension. On calmer days, it is possible to see specimen from the local fauna, such as armadillos, monkeys and “capybaras” (a local large rodent mammal). The Park is opened all through the year, but its best season is between May and October. It is opened from 8 am to 4 pm, and visitors may pay a fee to get it. It is located on Via EPIA BR-040, Urban Military Sector, 9th km. For ticket price and other information: +55 (061) 465-2016.

The Imperial Plateau Park
50 km away from Brasilia, the Imperial Plateau is located inside an “APA” – an Environmental Protection Area. The guided tour goes along trails and waterfalls, with halts for bathing and diving. The tour goes from 9 am to 5:30 pm, including transportation and lunch. It requires booking with antecedence, and visitors should wear sneakers, hat or cap, and solar protectors, bringing also light food for intervals, before and after lunch. Access to the Park is available through the DF-220 roadway, along 50 km, 16 of which run on an unpaved road. It is opened daily from 8 am to 6 pm. For ticket prices and other information call: +55 +55 (61) 345-8668.

Thematic Parks
The Brasilia Zoo
It occupies an 140-hectare area , near the Wild Life Sanctuary of Riacho Fundo, with 440 hectares, and the Birds Park, with 110 hectares, and all of them are managed by the Ecological Pole Foundation of Brasilia (FunPEB), comprising a total area of 690 hectares. The zoo hosts approximately 1,300 animals including birds, reptiles and mammals, in a total of 253 species, especially those that represent the original South American fauna – some of which live under the threat of extinction. The tour inside the Zoo may also be covered by car. The Zoo was not intended to be a place only for occasional visitations, but also for a deeper interaction with nature, the preservation of threatened species, environmental research and education. Besides all these animals, the zoo also offers snack bars, an arena theater, auditorium, a small library and also a Taxidermy Museum, including also wide and greenish areas protected under the shade of trees. The Brasilia zoo is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 5 pm. Visitors must buy individual tickets. For ticket prices and other information, call: +55 (61) 345-3622.

Bay Park
Water park, with six water toboggans – including an outdoors, 20-meter high one, and also an outdoors, 35-meter high one -, including also wavy pools, an artificial river with running streams and pools for children. It is located in the Hotels and Tourism Sector North, section 2, complex 5. It is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm. For ticket prices and other information, call: +55 (61) 306-3000.

Helicopter panoramic flight
Flying over the Monumental Axle at a height of 140 meters, during around 10 minutes. Helicopters can take three passengers. The ride is available every day, from 9 am to 7 pm. For ticket price and other information: +55 (61) 323-8777. Helicopters leaven from beside the TV Tower, in the Monumental Axle.

Boat ride on Paranoá Lake
This is a two-hour ride on the Lake, through the JK Bridge, and requires a minimum of 15 people to departure from the ASBAC Club. Rides are available on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 am to 2 pm. For ticket prices, reservations and other information: +55 (61) 9982-1161.

Catetinho (The Small “Catete” Palace)
First construction of Brasilia, erected in 1956, when the capital was still under construction – it was then the official residence of Juscelino Kubitschek, then President of the Republic. Visitors can appreciate here furniture and objects from that period, used when the first steps were taken to turn Brasilia into our national federal capital. Access to Catetinho is available through BR-040 roadway, on the Belo Horizonte direction, close to the Brasilia Country Club. It is opened daily, from 9 am to 5 pm. Information: +55 (61) 338-8694.

Television Tower
A Lúcio Costa project, with 224 meters of height, is deemed as an obligatory visit for tourists in the city. From up there, visitors can view the Pilot Plan, from a platform 75 meters up from the ground, with capacity for 150 people. In late afternoons, many visitors come up the Tower to view Brasilia’s the beautiful sunset. Around the Tower visitors find the largest and most traditional handcrafts fair in Brasilia. Right across from it there is a sculpture to celebrate the "Space Era", by Alexandre Wakenwith and, on a lower platform, at a height of 25 meters, visitors find the Gems Museum. The TV Tower is located in the Monumental Axle. The Fair and the Belvedere are opened on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, from 8 am to 5:45 pm. Information: +55 (61) 325-5735.

The Alvorada Palace
This is Brazilian Presidents’ official residence. Surrounded by a giant garden, the building is known for its white marble columns that have become a symbol of Brasilia – it was deigned by Oscar Niemeyer.

First great construction erected in the city, the Alvorada Palace was inaugurated even before Brasilia was finished, in 1958. Visitors cannot get in. Access is available through the Tourism Hotels Sector North. Information: +55 (61) 441-2317.

Praça dos Três Poderes (The “Three Powers Square”)
Praça dos Três Poderes concentrates some of the most important and significant buildings in the work and career of Oscar Niemeyer – the Planalto Palace, headquarters of Brazilian Presidency; the National Congress, hosting the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate; and the Higher Courts of Justice. The Square also hosts: the “Panteão da Pátria” (the Fatherland Banner), the Lúcio Costa Space and three important sculptures – “Pombal”, by Niemeyer; “Justice”, by Alfredo Ceschiatti; and “Os Candangos”, by Bruno Giorgi. In the central plaza a National Banner with 286 square meters is hold by a 100-meter high pole. It is located at the end of the Ministries Plateau.

National Congress
Headquarters of Brazilian Legislative Powers, the National Congress is composed of the Federal Senate – on the left side and represented by the "concave architectural dish" - and the Chamber of Deputies – located on the right side and represented by the "convex dish".

There are guided visits at every hour, going through both session halls and the museums in both houses of the Legislative Power. In both Houses guided tours are held from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 to 11:30 am, and from 2:30 to 4:30 pm; and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 am to 1:30 pm. For more information on the Chamber of Deputies, call +55 (61) 216-1771; and for information about the Federal Senate, call +55 (61) 311-3343. It is located on the Three Powers Square, at the end of the Ministries Plateau.

The Planalto Palace
It is the headquarters of Brazilian Executive Power, including the offices of the President of the Republic. Guided visits last 20 minutes and may be made on Sundays, from 9:30 am to 1 pm.

One of its attractions is the change of the guard at the Planalto Palace, held every two hours – the first one is at 8 am, and the last one is at 6 pm. It is located on the Three Powers Square, at the end of the Ministries Plateau. Information: +55 (61) 411-2317.

The Itamarati Palace
Also known as the “Arches Palace”, the Itamarati Palace holds a wide variety of artworks and antiques. Guided visits are available daily from 2 to 4:30 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 3:30 pm. It is located in the Ministries Plateau. Information: +55 (61) 411-6148.

The Supreme Federal Tribunal
It is the headquarters of the Country’s Judicial Power, the Higher Court holds a vast library with approximately 80 thousand volumes. Guided visits are available on Sundays, from 10 am to 4 pm, and last around 30 minutes – going through the Sessions Hall, the Noble Hall and three Museums. It is located on the Three Powers Square, in the Ministries Plateau. Information: +55 (61) 217-4058.

Palace of Justice at the Ministry of Justice
It is the headquarters for the Ministry of Justice, offering guided visits to its Black Hall, the Portraits Room, Library and Internal Garden. Visits are available from Monday to Friday, from 9 to 11 am and from 3 to 5 pm. It is located on the Three Powers Square, at the end of the Ministries Plateau. Information: +55 (61) 429-3401.

The Tancredo Neves Fatherland Banner Monument
Monument to freedom and democracy, it celebrates national heroes and especially ex-president Tancredo Neves. The project was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and hosts a collection of great artists, among them Athos Bulcão, João Câmara and Marianne Peretti. It is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 6 pm, on the Three Powers Square, at the end of the Ministries Plateau. Information: +55 (61) 325-6244.

The Lúcio Costa Space
A space dedicated to the miniature plan of the city of Brasilia. It is located below street level under the Three Powers Square – at the end point of the Ministries Plateau -, and is opened from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 6 pm. Information: +55 (61) 321-9843.

The JK Bridge
Inaugurated in 2002, the JK Bridge is the third bridge built to connect the city’s Pilot Plan to the South Lake. It is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

Free Flying
Brasilia is known as a departing point for the practice of free flying sports, a sport that may be practiced with Hang Gliding or Paragliding wings. Practitioners of such sports reveal that, because of the city’s dry weather, the city offers strong thermal winds and great “cloud-streets” – which is also the name for a maneuver quite appreciated by practitioners. The national capital hosted the 14th Hang Gliding World Championship – one of the categories of free flying – in 2003. And in 2005, from August 21st to 27th, it will host the 2nd stage of the Brazilian Hang Gliding Championship.

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