From 1763 to 1960, Rio de Janeiro was the capital of Brazil. An article of the country's first republican constitution dating back to 1891 stated that the capital should be moved from Rio de Janeiro to a place close to the center of the country. The plan was originally conceived in 1827 by José Bonifácio, an advisor to Emperor Pedro I. He presented a plan to the General Assembly of Brazil for a new city called Brasilia, with the idea of moving the capital westward from the heavily populated southeastern corridor. The bill was not enacted because Pedro I dissolved the Assembly.
Juscelino Kubitschek, President of Brazil from 1956 to 1961, ordered the construction of Brasília, fulfilling the promise of the Constitution.
Here we are with a statue of President Kubitschek and his wife in front of the museum dedicated to him and with a portrait of him inside the museum.
Brasília was built in 41 months, from 1956 to April 21, 1960, when it was officially inaugurated as the capital of Brazil.
Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect who is considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture. Niemeyer was best known for his design of all the major buildings for Brasília, a planned city which became Brazil's capital in 1960, as well as his collaboration with other architects on the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. His exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of reinforced concrete was highly influential on the architecture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Both lauded and criticized for being a "sculptor of monuments", Niemeyer was praised for being a great artist and one of the greatest architects of his generation by his supporters. Niemeyer was most famous for his use of abstract forms and curves that characterize most of his works, and wrote in his memoirs:
“ 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, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire universe, the curved universe of Einstein.”
Mr. Niemeyer was still alive when we visited Brasilia, but died shortly thereafter on December 5, 2012.
Brasilia was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1987 as an example of daring urban planning and modern architecture.
If you enjoy architecture as we do, you will enjoy visiting Brasilia.
ROYAL TULIP HOTEL
There are two general choices for hotels if you visit Brasilia. One is to stay in the center of the city and the other is to stay on the outskirts of the city. We decided to stay on the outskirts of the city for the following reasons –
• Better hotel with a beautiful setting as you will see from the photos
• Next to the President’s residence that we wanted to visit
• Free shuttle service into the city and back to the hotel
If you do stay on the outskirts of Brasilia, the best hotel is the five star Royal Tulip Brasilia Alvorada located on Paranoa Lake. www.royaltulipbrasiliaalvorada.com
The interior architecture of the hotel is quite dramatic.
The Old Barr pub style restaurant
Miguel Ventura and Daudier Berteli, the Front Desk Manager, were both exceptionally friendly and helpful in making our stay so very special.
It’s sister property, the four star Golden Tulip is within the same hotel complex, but is located as you enter the property and not on the lake.
Some unique visitors to the property.
Theater Brasilia is on the property and has occasional performances.
PALACE OF ALVORADA
The Presidential Palace, the Palace of Alvorada, was the first government structure built in the new federal capital. The architect, Oscar Niemeyer's project was based on the principles of simplicity and modernity.
It is located on the bank of the Paranoa Lake, next to the Royal Tulip Hotel.
We were surprised to learn that the best way to the President's Palace was to walk on the road, as there were no sidewalks. Since it was raining the day we went on the tour, we took a very short and expensive taxi to get there. As the rain had stopped when we finished the tour, we took a pleasant walk back to our hotel.
The tour is free, but it is usually only one day a week and only the first 300 people to get there are given tickets to enter. Be certain to speak with the concierge upon your arrival in Brasilia to see what day and time the tour is given. Also, get there at least an hour ahead of time to hope you are among the first 300 to arrive. We were very surprised to see the number of people in the off season, in the middle of the week on a rainy day.
Visiting all the famous places in Brasilia including both government buildings, museums, monuments, churches, etc. is both easy and difficult. It is easy in terms of location as they are all within about a mile of each other with the exception of the memorial and museum of President Kubitschek, who was the motivating force behind the development of Brasilia, that is about three miles from the city center. It is difficult in terms of schedules of openings. They each have specific day(s) of the week and time(s) of day they are open. If there are places you particularly want to visit, you need to check with the concierge and on the internet. Even then, you may find construction, a holiday, or some other reason that changes the schedule, as we did. If you visit Brasilia, you need to be flexible.
The Royal Tulip Hotel shuttle will drop you at any of the city center locations. From there you can take a taxi to the Memorial Kubitschek and a taxi back to the hotel.
The Eixo Monumental, Brasilia’s main thoroughfare, forms the centerpiece of the city. The National Congress stands at one end of the Eixo and Kubitschek Memorial stands at the other.
This is Oscar Niemeyer’s most famous and celebrated building and Brazil’s seat of government. It is located in the center of the two major one way streets with all the other famous, architecturally unique buildings on either side of it.
Our tour guide
The unusual materials used for the walls and ceiling.
The lighting effect of the materials used
Sandro Mabel, a legislator, was kind enough to take time to talk with us about the structure of the Brazilian government.
Palacio do Planalto
This is the executive office of the President of Brazil, just across the street from the National Congress.
Harman with the President's Security Guards
Panteao de Patria Tancredo Neves
This is a museum and monument to Tancredo Neves, a politician elected to be president of Brazil, but due to health reasons and subsequent death, was never sworn into office. However, he was considered a hero of the people due to his commitment to a democratic government.
The Itamaraty Palace is the headquarters of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil.
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer to resemble a crown of thorns, the cathedral features sixteen soaring curved pillars. The main altar was given by Pope Paul VI in 1967. The unusual subterranean entrance was intended to recall the catacombs where Christ was interred, with visitors emerging out of darkness in to the cathedral’s light. This was our most favorite building of all that we saw in Brasilia.
The Cultural Complex of the Republic is a cultural center located along the Eixo Monumental.
It is formed by the National Museum of the Republic and the National Library of Brasilia. Both buildings were designed by Pritzker Prize winning, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, and inaugurated at the opening of Brasilia in 1960.
National Museum of the Republic
National Library of Brasilia
Harman with resident musicians
Memorial to the Indigenous People of Brazil
This small museum is across the street from the Memorial Kubitschek.
Memorial to past President Juscelino Kubitschek - built in honor of the president responsible for the construction of Brasilia
Although this memorial is about three miles away from all the other buildings, etc., because of the significance of President Kubitschek, it is well worth the effort to visit this very special place.
Brasilia was a very unique and special place to visit, one we would like to revisit at some time in the future.