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Brasília

the capital of Brazil

Juscelino Kubitschek, President of Brazil from 1955 to 1960, and other leading Brazilians wanted to move the capital inland from Rio de Janeiro to spur settlement of the country's interior. Urban planner Lúcio Costa was hired to develop a plan for the city, and architect Oscar Niemeyer was put in charge of designing most of the government buildings. Construction of the city began in 1956, and the capital was officially moved from Rio de Janeiro on April 21, 1960.

location of Brasilia

The City

The plan that Costa drew up for Brasília was based on the concept of someone designating a place and taking possession of it -- a cross formed by two bars intersecting at right angles. This figure was then adapted to the topography and the natural slope of the ground, and its orientation was improved by curving the arms of one of the crossbars.

satellite view of Brasilia, with 'bow and arrow' layout in red
satellite view of Brasilia

The easternmost end of the "arrow" is dominated by the Plaza of the Three Powers, where all three branches of the federal government are housed. The Congressional Palace is composed of five parts: twin administrative towers flanked by a large, white concrete dome (where the Senate meets) and an equally massive concrete "bowl" (where the Chamber of Deputies meets), with an underlying flat-roofed building joining the two chambers. Also on the Plaza are the Planalto Palace housing the presidential offices and the Palace of the Supreme Court. Farther east, on a triangle of land jutting into an artificial lake, is the Palace of the Dawn (Palácio da Alvorada), the presidential residence.

The "arrow" itself is fomed by the Monumental Axis, the most prominent feature of which is the Brasilia Cathedral.

The residential zones of the inner city are arranged into superquadras ("superblocks"), groups of apartment buildings along with a prescribed number and type of schools, retail stores, and open spaces per group.

Brasilia landmarks
Brasilia landmarks

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> South America >> Brazil >> Cities, Towns, Etc., A-Z

This page was last updated on April 20, 2017.