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Brasilia and the Cerrado: Stop-over in Brasilia

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Stop-over in Brasilia

The centre west of Brazil was a wild and empty place,  a landscape of canyons and grasslands split by crystalline rivers.   That was until  the 1950s, when visionary president Juscelino Kubisheck decreed the speedy construction of a new capital to distract attention away from the coast. The city,  inaugerted in 1960, was futuristic and uncompromisingly modern for its era. Buiult in the shape of a hummingbird, aeroplane or bow and arrow and facing west , it presents an embodiment of the Brazilian motto, Order and Progress.  

Urban planning dictated  the construction of ‘sectors’ – commercial, leisure-focussed, residential, and governmental – a parade of east European like blocks march down the Eixo, the central artery, from the Presidential seat, the Planalto, which sits in the central sculpture-dotted  Praça de tres Poderes.  The striking cathedral,  conceived as a crown of thorns, is the most iconic building in a city devoted to innovation.

It doesn’t seem so space-agey now, of course, more 1960s Star Trek than ther CGI-enhanced 21st century iterations.  But it’s a fascinating place which can’t be ignored, its architecture dominated by the work of celebrated  Oscar Niemeyer. Tricky to negotiate on foot, but a guided city tour by car will give you a great impression of the city and how it fits together. If you are flying betenn other Brazilian attractions you may well need to change planes in the capital , giving you the opportunity to spend a day or two here to enhance your understanding of this complex country.

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