Introduction to Brasília
While administrative cities tend to be painted with the bland brush of bureaucracy, Brazil’s capital Brasília looks anything but staid. Designed by prolific Brazilians, chief architect Oscar Niemeyer, landscape designer Robert Burle Marx and main urban planner Lúcio Costa, Brasília replaced Rio de Janeiro as the country’s capital in 1960. Considered a masterpiece of Modernist Brazilian architecture, the basic outline of the planned urban centre was completed in just four years and now has over 2.5 million residents in the greater Distrito Federal area .
From above, Brasília resembles a giant airplane or bird with the Eixo Monumental (Monumental Axis) thoroughfare running down the centre. The city is comprised of sections zoned for different usage with the ‘airplane wings’ assigned as residential areas, the intersection as the commercial and cultural centre and the ‘nose’ surrounded by the manmade Paranóa Lake created to provide another source of water in the dry season and as a leisure destination for its residents.
Despite the awe-inspiring structures and central location, Brasília was still tainted with the boring brush and thought to be preoccupied with politics and architecture rather than culture or community. While it lacks the beauty and beaches of Rio and the artistic verve and major venues of São Paulo, Brasília is quietly making a name for itself as an emerging gastronomy hub and cultural centre. The capital regularly hosts film festivals, music concerts and avant-garde art exhibitions, and has no less than eight restaurants (including the charmingly named Respectable Burger) by well-known Brasília chef Dudu Camargo.
One thing Brasília definitely has in common with the rest of the country is a passion for soccer with two stadiums and two minor football teams. The brand-new Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha reopened in May 2013 after the previous stadium was demolished. Finished in time for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup, it has the capacity to hold 71,000 fans - that's a whole lot of vuvuzelas!