Welcome to Brasilia
Brasilia is the purpose-built capital of Brazil, inaugurated in
1960 and now the country's fourth-largest city. Most visitors pass
through Brasilia International Airport, a major transport hub for
the continent, without bothering to view the city, which as
primarily the seat of government has little to compete with the
allure and hedonism of Brazil's more exotic destinations.
Nevertheless, Brasilia is a major draw card for devotees of
architecture who come to marvel at the monumental modernist
buildings and city layout, collectively declared a World Heritage
Site - the only city built in the 20th century to achieve this. The
buildings serve as monuments to progress, technology and the
promise of the future. And against a backdrop of perpetually blue
sky their striking lines in bleached white granite and concrete are
Among the most famous of Brasilia's modernists structures are
the cathedral of Santuario Dom Bosco, with 7,400 pieces of
illuminated Murano glass; the incredibly beautiful Palácio do
Itamaraty; and the TV tower, which at 240 feet-high (72m) is home
to the best views in town.
Viewed from above, the central city resembles an aeroplane or
bird, thanks to the intersecting Highway Axis, reaching from the
north to the southwest to link the key residential neighbourhoods;
and the straight Monumental Axis, which connects the main
governmental buildings. All the buildings of the original city were
designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, while the
urban planning was completed by Lucio Costa. Getting around the
city is easy and convenient as there is excellent public transport
- although walking is not an option given the vast distances
between the picturesque landmarks.
Brasilia is preparing to receive its largest influx of tourists
ever as it is scheduled to host football matches for both the 2014
Fifa World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
Brasilia is located 720 miles (1,160 km) from Rio de Janeiro and
630 miles (1,020 km) from Sao Paulo. It is quite literally in the
middle of nowhere, the only major inland city in the vast country.
There are some worthwhile excursions from Brasilia, although long
distances make these overnight trips. Itiquira Falls is a 550
feet-high (168m) waterfall 60 miles (100 km) from the city, and
Caldas Novas - the world's largest natural hot springs resort - can
be found 220 miles (360 km) southeast of Brasilia.
Information & Facts
The spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, however
Spanish and English are also used in the cities.
The Brazilian monetary unit is the real (BRL), plural reais.
There are 100 centavos to the real. The US dollar is also welcome
in most tourist establishments. In the main cities foreign
currencies and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks or
cambios. There is an extensive network of ATMs in the
country and most major international credit cards are accepted.
Brazil spans four time zones: Rio and Sao Paulo: GMT -2 (GMT
-3 April to October); Brasilia and Belm: GMT -3 (GMT -2 October to
March); GMT -4 in the West.