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.
Brasília, a city without a history, a new metropolis built to a unified and extraordinarily ambitious plan (mainly the work of Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer) in a remarkably short time, caused a sensation with its avant-garde architecture and also attracted a good deal of criticism. What distinguishes Brasília from a city that has just "grown" is the strict division between different functions (housing, business, administration, hotels, etc.) which excludes on principle any mingling of different activities and condemns the inhabitants to long journeys between home and work. Moreover the accommodation provided for the construction workers has degenerated into extensive favelas (slum areas).
Under the "pilot plan" prepared by Lúcio Costa the central area of the new capital is in the form of a large cross (though the layout is sometimes interpreted as a bird or an aircraft) consisting of one curving axis running north-south, the Eixo Rodoviário, and a straight axis running east-west, the Eixo Monumental plus the Esplanada dos Ministérios, the central axis on which are the principal official buildings.
Given the great distances to be covered, Brasília is not a city that can be explored on foot. The best plan for visitors is to take a conducted sightseeing tour.
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.