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Brasilia City Guide
Brasilia, the extraordinary new capital of Brazil, was designed, planned and built in the late 50s to early 60s. The futuristic vision of its modern architecture is often called ‘utopian’ by visitors of the capital. Its utopian reputation is due in part to the amount of green space that the city has. You will quickly find that residents of Brasilia are always jogging around Brasilia’s many parks or enjoying the vast refreshing waters of Lake Paranoá. Any Brasilia tourist information booklet will tell you that the city is shaped like a giant bird. The body of the bird is formed by the Eixo Monumental (Monumental Axis), a huge green space that holds most of the city's important buildings like the Palace of the Arches; it’s almost like an immense display case for the wonders of the city. Brasilia is a city that needs to be seen to be believed.
Things to do in Brasilia
You will find that much of the sightseeing of your trip is based around the exploration of the Eixo Monumental. If you’re a fan of modernist architecture you can’t go wrong in Brasilia. At the far end of the axis is Three Powers Plaza, where the governmental and legal buildings are held. The National Congress, with its huge dishes, is an interesting building to look at both inside and out. The Palácio do Planalto, the president’s administrative building, is also held in this Plaza. The inside can be toured on Sundays. One of the key things to do in Brasilia is pay a visit to the Cathedral, a stunning example of a modernist religious building. Its sixteen curved columns are connected by beautiful stained glass.
Things to see in Brasilia
There are still many things to see in Brasilia away from the grand strip of the Eixo Monumental. The Templo da Boa Vontade is an interesting piece of interactive architecture, its spiral walkway attracting many visitors, in part to look at the crystal that sits at the top of the pyramid. The Presidential home, the Palácio da Alvorada, is another breath-taking building that sits on the edge of Lake Paranoá. The parks of Brasilia should not be missed. From the City Park, which is larger than Central Park in size, to the National Park on the outskirts of town which has rare species and natural swimming pools, to the Ecological Park where you can swim in Lake Paranoá; there are many green spaces to explore.
You can fly into Brasilia’s Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport. It is not far from the city centre by airport standards and there are regular buses between the two. It’s also possible to hire a taxi from the airport. Once you’re in Brasilia transport is fairly easy as long as you don’t plan to walk! Brasilia was designed with cars in mind so it’s almost impossible to navigate on foot. However, there are buses and a metro system to solve this problem or you can hire a car to see Brasilia as it was planned.
The Brasilia Cinema festival is an important cultural event for the whole of Brazil. It takes place in late October to November. The Japanese Festival or Obon Festival is a popular event that takes place in August, and offers traditional Japanese dances and food. The Porão do Rock festival is a popular rock music festival that takes place towards the end of the summer. Like all Brazilian cities Brasilia has a Carnival in the period before Lent (February usually) and it is an exciting and vibrant time full of Brasilia events to attend.
Restaurants in Brasilia
As a relatively new city Brasilia doesn’t have a typical regional cuisine. Instead it is known for having dishes from all of the various states of Brazil on offer as well as a good offering of international food. Most of the best restaurants in Brasilia are in the residential districts either side of the main axis, in the ‘wings’ of the bird. You can often find popular eateries in CLS 405, CLS 409 and CLS 210. If you want to explore a food market, there are often quaint stalls around the central Television Tower on the Eixo Monumental.