Welcome to Brasilia
In the largely underdeveloped central west region of Brazil (called Sertao) sits Brasilia, the capital since 1960. The official name for central Brasilia is Plano Piloto, named for the winning “pilot plan” design of the city proposed by Lucio Costa. President Kubitschek moved the capital here from Rio de Janeiro to bring the countries interest further inland, away from the coast. The idea to move the capital to a more secure area was first suggested by Jose Bonifacio in 1823, and he was the one who suggested the name “Brasilia.” However, Dom PedroI dissolved the assembly before any plans could be established. In 1922 the sited building area was demarcated after Dom Bosco had his famous dream that was interpreted to mean that the city should be built “between the 15th and 20th parallel.” However, it was only in 1955 under President Kubitschek’s command that the construction of the city took place.
The entire city of Brasilia was remarkably built in only four years by the hands of hundreds of thousands of workers from all over the country. Difficulties in construction arose mainly for the reason that the land allocated to the future capital was largely inaccessible: the nearest road was over 75 miles away and the nearest airport some 115 miles. The resultant system of highways that was constructed to connect Brasilia to the rest of the country helped greatly to unify all of Brazil. Though through miserable living conditions and grueling labor, the city stood upright in 1960 and was inaugurated as the new capital.
Brasilia is a major draw card for devotees of architecture who come to marvel at the monumental modernist buildings and city layout, collectively declared a World Heritage Site – the only city built in the 20th century to achieve this. The buildings serve as monuments to progress, technology and the promise of the future. And against a backdrop of perpetually blue sky their striking lines in bleached white granite and concrete are wonderfully photogenic.
Among the most famous of Brasilia’s modernists structures are the cathedral of Santuario Dom Bosco, with 7,400 pieces of illuminated Murano glass; the incredibly beautiful Palácio do Itamaraty; and the TV tower, which at 240 feet-high (72m) is home to the best views in town.
Viewed from above, the central city resembles an aeroplane or bird, thanks to the intersecting Highway Axis, reaching from the north to the southwest to link the key residential neighbourhoods; and the straight Monumental Axis, which connects the main governmental buildings. All the buildings of the original city were designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, while the urban planning was completed by Lucio Costa. Getting around the city is easy and convenient as there is excellent public transport – although walking is not an option given the vast distances between the picturesque landmarks.
Brasilia is preparing to receive its largest influx of tourists ever as it is scheduled to host football matches for both the 2014 Fifa World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.