To Brasilia and Beyond: A Visual Guide to the City’s Futuristic Architecture
In 1956, Brazilian President, Juscelino Kubitschek decided it was time to move the nation’s capital from the southern city of Rio de Janeiro to a more central location.
Free from the distractions of Copacabana and Ipanema beach, JK set out to follow through on his campaign promise and literally build a new capital for Brazil.
He marked off vacant land in the middle of the country and commissioned renowned Brazilian architects, Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer to create the urban landscape.
The result was a modern city that rose from the vibrant red soil like a storyboard drawing from The Jetsons.
The city itself is laid out in the shape of an airplane, with specially designed districts for commercial, residential and governmental areas. Like separating food on your plate, the goal was for everything to have its place.
If you’re in need of a pharmacy, visit the pharmacy district, if you’re looking for a hotel, you can surely find one in the hotel district.
While the city’s infrastructure was well thought out for the future, it was the forward-thinking architectural design that really makes you feel like you’re in another time and place.
Although I couldn’t find any hoverboard rentals in town, I set out on bike to explore Brasilia’s unique architectural landmarks and find out what Oscar Niemeyer meant when he said…
“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers and in the waves of the ocean…”
Here are a few of Niemeyer’s incredible creations I encountered along the bike path in central Brasilia.
The flame of eternal freedom (Chama de Eterna Liberdade), which overlooks Three Powers Plaza (Praca dos 3 Poderes), named after the three branches of government whose offices surrounded the square.
National Congress building (Congresso Nacional) is very cool because the two branches of congress (Federal Senate and the Chamber of Deputies) are represented with two bowls, one upside down and one right-side up, as well as two towers where each branch has their offices.
Perhaps the most interesting of all of Niemeyer’s creations is the Cathedral of Brasilia, which is a Roman Catholic cathedral, constructed from 16, 90-ton concrete columns. The stained glass windows inside are incredible and the underground entrance really makes you feel like Buzz Lightyear.
I thought the National Museum of the Republic was the city’s planetarium when I first laid eyes on the Saturn-like structure. Positioned right next to the National Library, the dome is mainly used to display temporary art and cultural exhibits.
Paying homage to the president who made all of the incredible architecture possible is the Juscelino Kubitschek memorial, which opened in 1981 and is located towards the back of the plane.
Inside you will find a lot of interesting information about his life as well as his burial site.
If you have the opportunity to visit Brasilia, I strongly suggest following in my path by renting a bike for the afternoon to check out all of these cool sites.