“Capital of a bold Brazil/ Good at combat and better at peace/Hail to the people that wanted you thus/Symbol of a nation’s strength!” The last stanzas of Brasilia’s anthem are a faithful image of the appreciation that tourists feel on a visit to the Distrito Federal (Federal District ). A survey by the Observatório do Turismo (Tourist Observatory) reveals: over 95% of visitors to Brasilia want to return, and 60% of those interviewed declared it wasn’t their first visit to the city. The information, divulged by Brasilia’s Department of Tourism, refers to the years of 2016 and 2017, and the survey was undertaken with the aim of identifying the city’s flow and the profile of the visitors.
To understand why the city is so appreciated, we must, firstly, understand the importance of Brasilia. The largest city in the world to be built in the 20th century, federal capital of Brazil, seat of the government of the Federal District, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the largest protected area in the world (112.5 square kilometers). All of this thanks to the architectural and urbanistic project of the city designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer and town planner Lucio Costa, plus the structural calculations of engineer Joaquim Cardoso.
Inaugurated in 1960 by then President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brasilia, seen from above, is shaped like an airplane, although in the initial project it was shaped like a butterfly. But, besides its political importance and impressive architecture, Brasilia is also well known for its gastronomy. The third largest gastronomic center in Brazil, the city has some of the best restaurants in the country, with diverse culinary influences. Brasilia’s highlights are the Pontão do Lago Sul (South Lake Point), Ponte Juscelino Kubitschek (JK Bridge), and the commercial areas 404/405 South and 213/214 North. Below, a list of places to visit in Brasilia.
Alvorada Palace – Designed in 1956, even before the pilot plan, the Alvorada palace is the official residence of the President of the Republic. The building is known as one of Oscar Niemeyer’s masterpieces.
Planalto Palace – Accessed by a famous ramp, it is the seat of Executive Power, that is, the president’s workplace (in an office situated on the second floor). The Planalto Palace holds hearings and banquets in the drawing rooms on the first floor, as well as the Civilian and Military Cabinets, on the third floor. Note to tourists: the changing of the guard takes place every two hours, while on Fridays, punctually at 5:30 pm, there is the flag lowering ceremony, with the presence of bands and the Dragões da Independência (Independence Dragoons), a unit of the Brazilian army.
National Congress – Also designed by Niemeyer, it is the seat of Legislative Power, and holds a vast cultural collection and beautiful landscapes, besides the H shaped, 28 story blocks.
South Lake Point – Ideal for those in search of tranquility and entertainment. South Lake Point is considered the central leisure hub in the federal capital. Its highlights are the view of Paranoa Lake and an excellent structure with bars and restaurants.
Parque da Cidade Sarah Kubitschek (Sarah Kubitschek City Park) – Situated in the South Wing, the park is an invitation to the practice of sports. With multi-use courts, artificial lakes, tracks for walking, cycling and skating, plus an equestrian center, it’s the largest urban park in the world, covering 420 hectares.
Jardim Botânico de Brasília (Brasilia Botanical Gardens) – With over 5 thousand hectares of native and exotic plants, the garden has a 4500m ecological trail divided into: Garden in Movement, Cerratenses (typical dry vegetation of the cerrado), picnic area, Nature Library, Museum of Natural History, Visitor Center, Teahouse, Guido Pabst Space (a collection of native and exotic orchids), plus an amphitheater and the Kyoto and Tababuias Groves.
Jardim Zoológico de Brasília (Brasilia Zoo) – Inaugurated in 1957, prior to the foundation of the city, the zoo shelters over 800 animals, distributed among 185 species of birds, reptiles, and mammals. In its 139.75 hectares, there is a Natural Sciences Museum, a Butterfly Zoo, an area for picnics and camping, a playground, artificial lakes, a wooded area for tours, ample parking space and snack bars.
JK Bridge – Designed by architect Alexandre Chan, the bridge holds the title of most beautiful in the world, elected in 2013 by the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, in the United States.
Be sure to also visit:
Planetário de Brasília (Brasilia Planetarium) – Situated in the center of the capital, the revitalized planetarium holds expositions, workshops, and classes, besides exhibiting films. It also has a digital library and adapted furniture.
Museu Nacional de Brasilia (Brasilia National Museum) – Following closely the project for the preservation of works related to the building of the city, it represents a historical landmark for being inaugurated on the same day as the city, marking the official transference of the Brazilian capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia.
Estádio Nacional de Brasília (Brasilia National Stadium) – Situated in Brasilia’s administrative center in the Federal District, it holds the bitter title of the most expensive stadium in the 2014 World Cup. After the end of the competition, the nearly R$1.5 billion invested in the stadium is being wasted by lack of matches and maintenance, but is still a good tourist option.
Memorial dos Povos Indígenas (Indigenous Peoples Memorial) – Designed by Niemeyer, it was built in 1987. The building is shaped like a spiraled and round maloca (native hut) as a homage to the Yanomami Indians.