Go up the TV tower, which is 218 metres tall and you will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the city. At 25m there is a platform which has a gemstone museum, but you can go by elevator to 75m. Entrance is free but it closes at 8pm. Good for viewing the sunset.
We have lot of things to do, all the time. I didn't know how to start this tip... So, I decided open it with something I really love to do - go to breathe a bit of art. Brasília has lot of cultural sets and this one is the Conjunto Cultural da Caixa, a cultural set of a Federal Bank, with exposition rooms and theater.... We have others, like CCBB (another from a Federal Bank), Espaço Cultural Renato Russo ( it's to the cares of the governor), Galeria ECCO, Artefutura, etc... These spaces also offer fast workshops in some artistic areas, stimulate the local production and they bring great artists of the world.
This is a quite new gallery in Brasilia, and it has already become a very important place for contemporary production in the Capital. It presents temporary exhibitions of local and national art - sometimes an international programme, but not always. So far, they have no own collection.
They also have many other activities programmed, like lectures, shows and videos. The homepage is very interesting, and it shows the agenda, as well as photographs.
There's a good and charming restaurant annexed to the gallery, Oliver, but its prices are steep...
The Memorial dos Povos Indigenas is across the road from the JK Memorial and is another Niemeyer designed building.
This museum was the reason for my visit to Brasilia, but on the city tour I took, although we parked at the JK Memorial to learn all about it, the guide did not even mention this museum which was directly across the road and in full view, and also despite the fact that it is a Niemeyer building.
As I learnt more, this disrespect of the Indigenous people seemed typical.
Niemeyer designed the building to resemble the typical circular houses of the Yanomani People. From its inception it was intended to be a museum celebrating the artistic talents of all Brazil's native people, both modern and also archeological finds. Native shamans and elders were consulted and approved of the idea.
Once the museum was completed, the Powers That Be decided that such a beautiful building was wasted on native peoples and decided to make it a regular art museum. The native elders objected, but to no avail. Then they prayed. Eventually the art museum failed, and after another false start, the building was eventually turned over to house the collection for which it was designed.
The collection is STUNNING, especially the feather jewelry.
There is a cafe and also a gift shop in the building, but they are open only sporadically, and to no reliable schedule. Even the museum itself has opening hours that are thoretical rather than actual. If the main door is closed, go around to a large metal door on the ground floor and bang hard, and either a security guard or a member of the staff will probably let you in. It is worth the effort.
The Memorial dos Povos Indigenas is accross the road from the JK Memorial and is another Niemeyer designed building.
This museum is the reason for my visit to Brasilia, but on the city tour I took, although we parked at the JK Memorial to learn all about it, the guide did not even mention this museum which was directly across the road and in full view, and although it is a Niemeyer building.
As I learnt more, this ignoring of the Indigenous people seemed typical.
Niemeyer designed the building to resemble the typical circular houses of the Yanomani People. It was intended to be a museum celebrating the artistic talents of all Brazil's native people, both modern and also archeological finds. Native shamans and elders were consulted and approved of the idea.
Once the museum was completed, the powers that be decided that such a beautiful building was wasted on native peoples and decided to make it a regular art museum. The native elders objected, but to no avail. Then they prayed. Eventually the art museum failed, and after another false start, the building was eventually turned over to house the collection for which it was designed.
The collection is STUNNING, especially the feather jewelry.
There is a cafe and also a gift shop in the building, but they are open only sporadically, and to no reliable schedule. Even the museum itself has opening hours that are thoretical rather than actual. If the main door is closed, go arounf to a large metal door on the ground floor and bang hard, and either a security guard or a member of the staff will probably let you in. It is worth the effort.
There is no special time to come, though late afternoon, around 5pm, will get you to see a lovely sunset.
The lift will take you to the lookout in almost one minute. From there you will see Brasília's most important landmarks, and with some imagination, the airplane shape of Brazil's capital.
On the foot of the tower there is a crafts fair where you can find interesting artesanato - and not so interesing artesanato as well... Food stalls sell nice food - my favourite is Pacífico, with its spring rolls.
The lift is for free, as well as strolling nearby.
Dom Bosco is the founder priest of the Salesians. Once, long long time ago, Dom Bosco dreamt of a city that was to be built in the future, that would be shaped like a bird, in the central plains of a great country. This city would be of great importance to a new and fairer world.
The prophecy may be exageration, but Juscelino Kubistchek, the president who lead the foundation of Brasília and the transfer of the Capital from Rio de Janeiro, was a DOm Bosco devotee, and this church was built in his honour.
The walls are made of blue and purple vitral, so when you enter the sanctuary, you'll see everything coloured in blue, for the light will be filtered. it may be a 5 minute experience, but it's worth it. If you're lucky or meet someone from the church administration, they may get the gigantic chandelier lit for you, but things will go back to their regular colour... :)
Entrance is free.
A great way to learn about and see Brasilia is to take a city tour. These tours will take you to most of the city's landmarks and serve as a good base for more in-depth exploration. As with most tours, a knowledgeable and witty guide can make all the difference.
Continuing our mini odyssey we came upon another type of sanctuary..... the JK memorial (pics 1 & 2 ).....where JUSCELINO KUBITSCHEK , the decider and doer and maker of Brasilia is worshipped as if a saint..... walls plastered with pictures from his life , his books , his letters , his whole office with all furniture, his watches , his eye glasses , all relics .... for a moment I felt embarrassed to see a human being idolatrized like a god but then I got into the mood and started looking , reading and feeling..... Seems he came from humble beginnings and made his way up to the presidency during which he immortalized himself with this city...... This done , the military junta took away his mandate and political rights and he had to go into exile from which he returned years later to work for private enterprises. Just a few days before turning 74 ( in 1976 ) he died in a violent car accident on notorious Dutra highway linking Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Pic 3 shows the fantastically beautifull Juscelino Kubitschek bridge with three arches in different angles crossing artificial lake Paranoá.. ( no...NOT lake Paranoia...!) where Rio Gama used to flow..... An absolute must to see ( and cross by car ).... Pics 4 and 5 show Oscar Niemeyers National Congress from the front and from the back......
As mentioned in the Intro , my friend and I stopped over , rented a car and started to drive around..... Driving around and discovering is a nice way to spend a few hours and see whatever you can... Our first stop took us to the Metropolitan Cathedral by Oscar Niemeyer (see Intro ) , very impressive , built largely below ground and even though I'm neither into , say , religion , sacral arts or architecture , I looked in awe at what had been done here ( see pics 1 and 2 ). An even bigger surprise was Dom Bosco sanctuary ( pics 3 and 4 ) . Dom Bosco was the monk ( and italian saint , founder of the Order of the Salesians ) mentioned in the Intro who "dreamed up" the mystical location of Brazils future capital. What enthralled me at the sanctuary was its inner captivating blue beauty.......
I wasn't shooting pictures all the time , but pic # 5 gives you an idea of some of the modernist and bold construction styles in this super modern city.....
Well, if you are a tourist it is definitly worth seeing the Square of the Three Powers.
What makes it an intersting place to visit is the fact that there you will find the most significant buildings of Oscar Niemeyer’s work that shelter the heart of the Brazil's administration and power:
- Palacio do Planalto - the Planalto Palace (seat of the Republic’s presidency),
- Congresso Nacional - the National Parliament (House of Representatives and the Federal Senate), and
- Supremo Tribunal Federal - the Supreme Federal Court.
There you also find the City Museum, the Nation’s Pantheon, the Lucio Costa Hall, and three sculptures – Pombal (by Oscar Niemeyer), Justice (by Alfredo Ceschiatti) and Os Candangos (by Bruno Giorgi). The Department of Justice and the Itamaraty Palace (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) are located nearby and are also part of the Terrace of Ministries.
For me this cathedral is far away from the typical stereotype of a cathedral. What you will see is a roundly shaped building with 16 curved pillars intertwined with stained glass.
To enter inside of the cathedral you will pass trough something like an underground tunel with black walls.
The atmosphere inside of the cathedral was a bit wierd for me. I could not get the feeling that I am in a temple, I felt more as if I am standing in a train station. But I was told that if you go there at a specific time of the day when the sunlight is goint trough the stained glass trough a certain angle the view is breath-taking and definitly worth seeing.
Here is some additional info:
The Cathedral was inaugurated on May 31, 1970. However, in a book published by the Brasília's Official Tourism Office it is written that "the Cathedral was inaugurated in 1967, twelve years after its construction began." From this moment on, the majority of city guides on Brasília began quoting this misinformation.
The Cathedral's construction began in 1959, and not in 1957. 1957 was the year in which work began in the Pilot Plan.
1967 was the year when the Cathedral, still under construction, was raised to the status of Historic Patrimony. The administration Costa e Silva wanted to finish the half-built Cathedral but it could not use public funds for that purpose. Finishing the Cathedral was the responsibility of the Church and not of the State. Thus, in 1967 the administration decided to turn the Cathedral into a Monument and so it managed to get public funds to conclude the project.
Originaly designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the cathedral was renovated in 1988. It was painted white, and its glass windows were replaced by new colored ones, designed by Antonia Marianne Peretti.
There are also works by other Brazilian artists: by Alfredo Ceschiatti - the sculptures of angels hanging by wires attached to the ceiling, and the Evangelists outside the church; by Di Cavalcanti - paintings representing the steps of the Passion.
You will most probably ask yourself why am I suggesting to you to do this.
And here is my answer:
This is the largest flag in the world that constantly flies. Its size is 70m by 100m. I have been told that because the flag is too big, it tears appart quite fast, so it has to be replaced with a new one approximately every month. Each month a different Brazilian State is responsible for the costs of the new flag.
Here is a brief description of the Brasilian flag:
The meaning of the Brasilian flag colours:
Green - represents the forests;
Yellow - represents gold and the richness of the country;
Blue - the sky;
White - peace among people.
There are 27 stars representing each Brazilian state and one Federal District - Brazilia - the capital of Brazil.
The words Ordem e Progresso mean Order and Progress.
Praça dos Três Poderes ('Square of the Three Powers'), around which you can see various important Government buildings - the Congresso Nacional (Congress), the Palacio do Planalto ('Planalto Palace'), and the 'Supremo Tribunal Federal' (High Court) - as well as monuments (such as Liberty Panteon). Beside the 'Praça' you will also be able to see the National Flag and the 'Espaço Lucio Costa', in which you will find a mock-up of Brasilia.
This is where the most important government buildings are situated. Brasilia's inhabitants are mainly occupied in Brazil's administration, so a lot of them come here to work. These buildings are the Congress, the Supreme Court and the Planalto Palace, showing the three powers of a democracy (hence the name Praça dos tres poderes, square of the three powers).
Other buildings to be found here: the largest flague of Brasil, the Liberty Panteon and the Lucio Costa memorial (with a mock up of Brasilia). I especially like the flague: it's the biggest in Brasil, and the post on which it hangs resembles the different states of Brasil. The flague is so heavy that it has to be replaced every now and then. Costs for replacing it are carried by a different state each time.