Brasilia Tourist Attractions


The city of Brasília, which succeeded Rio de Janeiro as capital of the Federal Republic of Brazil on April 21st 1960, was built in less than three years, and soon developed into a key factor in the opening up of Brazil's middle west; since 1985 it has numbered among the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Brasília is 761km/473mi north-east of Belo Horizonte, 2120km/1317mi south of Belém and 2027km/1260mi north of Porto Alegre. The city lies directly on the watershed between the Amazon and the Rio Paraná.

Square of the Three Powers

As the name of the Praça dos Tràs Poderes (Square of the Three Powers) indicates, it is surrounded by the premises of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary: the Palácio do Planalto, the official residence of the President; the Supremo Tribunal Federal (Supreme Court); and the Congresso Nacional, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Also round the square are the Historical Museum of Brasília and the Pantheon of Freedom (Panteão da Libertade), which is dedicated to the rebels of the Inconfidància Mineira of 1789 and to President Tancredo Neves, who died in 1985, soon after taking office. On the north side of the square, somewhat apart from the other buildings, is the Palácio da Justiça (Law Courts), and on the south side is the Palácio dos Arcos.

Palácio dos Arcos (Palácio Itamaraty)

The Palácio dos Arcos (also known as the Palácio Itamaraty), which houses the Foreign Ministery, is one of Oscar Niemeyer's greatest achievements. It is set in beautiful gardens, with a pond, designed by the landscape architect Burle Marx.

Esplanada dos Ministérios

To the west of the Praça dos Tràs Poderes is the Esplanada dos Ministérios, along both sides of which are the various federal ministries.


The Cathedral, designed by Niemeyer, lies on the central axis, near the intersection with the Eixo Rodoviário and diagonally opposite the Law Courts. This concrete-framed structure, hyperboloid in form and extraordinarily light in effect, seems with its glass roof to be reaching up, open, to heaven.

National Theatre

The Teatro Nacional stands almost exactly at the intersection of the two axes, near the old bus station.

Parque Rogério Phyton Farias

The church of São João Bosco is dedicated to the Italian priest (1815-88; canonized in 1934) who had prophesied the foundation of the city of Brasília and the development of a new culture in the highlands of the Brazilian middle west. Near Avenida W3 Sul, west of the intersection of the city's two axes, is the Parque Rogério Phyton Farias, the largest park in the whole of Brazil (area, with a lake, a swimming pool with artificial waves, a wood and several sports grounds.

Brasília National Park

The Parque Nacional de Brasília (area 28,000 hectares/70,000 acres; only part open to public) lies in the north-west of the Federal District, 10km/6mi from Brasília. It offers a representative selection of the characteristic vegetation of the Brazilian middle west, from the low and crooked trees of the cerrado, the bush steppe of the Brazilian interior - including particularly the pau-terra (Qualea cordata), the gujak tree and the aricuri palm, a species of coconut palm - to the imposing trees of the gallery forests found particularly on the banks of rivers and the shores of lakes, among them Ipàs-roxos (Tabebuia impetiginosa, a tree which yields dyewood) and jataís (Hymenaea courbaril). There are also expanses of scrub and grassland, and veredas (swampy plains) with beautiful palms and buritis. The numerous source streams in this area supply the whole of Brasília with drinking water. The attractions of the park also include a number of mineral springs.
The park has a rich and varied fauna, with innumerable species of birds, rheas, wild pigs, capybaras, pampas deer, maned wolves, jaguars, caimans, anacondas, rattlesnakes, coral snakes and other species of snake.

Lake Paranoá

On the east side of the city the Rio Paranoá has been dammed to form a large lake with a circumference of 80km/50mi, the Lago do Paranoá. Round its shores are embassies and consulates, sports clubs, restaurants, the northern and southern residential areas (Setor Habitacional Norte and Sul), the University, the Olympic Center and the Palácio da Alvorada (Palace of the Dawn), the official residence of the President of the Republic.

Botanic Garden

10km/6mi from the city center, at the south-west end of Lake Paranoá (in the Mansões Dom Bosco sector), is the Botanic Garden.

Dom Bosco Chapel

On the east side of Paranoá Lake, opposite the Palácio da Alvorada, is the Dom Bosco Chapel (Ermida Dom Bosco).

Congress Center

The Congress Center (Centro de Convenáìes) has two main halls, a theatre and a restaurant.

Médici Sports Center

In the northern recreation district, opposite the Congress Center on the Eixo Monumental, is the President Médici Sports Center (Centro Esportivo), with the Autódromo Nelson Piquet (a Formula I racing circuit), a cycle track, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, a track for field athletics, a children's playground, sports grounds, tennis courts and a stadium.

Palácio do Buriti

On the Eixo Monumental, to the west of the Sports Center, is the Palácio do Buriti, seat of the Federal District authorities.

Brasília University

On the east side of the Eixo Rodoviário Norte (Northern Traffic Axis), on the shores of Lake Paranoá (Lago do Paranoá), is the University of Brasília.

Brasília International Airport

The Brasília International Airport is located approximately 12 km (7 1/2 miles) from the city center. It was named after Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, the 21st President of Brazil.

Memorial to President Kubitschek

On the Praça do Cruzeiro (Eixo Monumental) is the Memorial to President Juscelino Kubitschek (1902-76), which contains a museum commemorating the initiator of Brasília.

Zoological and Botanical Garden

On Avenida Nações Unidas, 9km/5.6mi south-west of the city center, is the Zoological and Botanical Garden, with a lake and a theatre.


40km/25mi south of the city on BR 040 (the Belo Horizonte road) is Catetinho, the first stage in the creation of Brasília, where President Kubitschek lived during the construction of the capital.
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