Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Today I spent the day in Brasília for some meetings. And since I was on my way South from Belém to Rio it was good timing.

Since this city has quite an interesting (and very recent) history I decided to write some about it.

The city is roughly located in the middle of Brazil. Until the 1950s there was no sign of a city or even a town there... until the then president decided to move the Brazilian capital from Rio de Janeiro to a more "central" location. After pinpointing the new capital location on a map the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the entire city, from the location of shops and residential apartment buildings to the whole infrastructure needed for the national government. The city plan is also the form of an airplane, as can be seen from the sky:

The airplane nose is where the president's office, senate, justice department, foreign affairs, etc sit. The airplane body is the main avenue, with a conference center and TV antenna. The wings are where the shops and residential areas are located. So one might ask... where did all the money necessary for such a humongous task come from? Well... the decade before Brazil started it's social security program... and since no one was retiring yet there was only money coming in and no pension payments as of yet. Great deal for contractors who got to conduct a project at a scale almost incomparable. Not so good for an entire country that is still payment these fancies...
The senate.

Brasilia is quite an interesting place to visit though. Lot's of modern 1950s buildings that are now patrimony and cannot be changed. There are also the interesting points of visiting a capital. And since my brother lives there I get to meet family as well. Living in Brasilia is a love-hate relationship he tells me. Public servants in the 1960s had to get huge benefits to be convinced to leave the beaches of Rio for the arid savanna and a nostalgia for Rio is quite apparent. For a younger generation Brasília is a land of opportunity, lot's of jobs, lot's of people in the same situation. But the city also suffers from being VERY stuck up: they think they are the best and seem to feed this feeling with the fact that all embassies, consulates and big international deals are home. But to be quite honest Brasilia is not self-sufficient, over 80% of its population live off taxes paid by other Brazilians.

As I said, as interesting story... even if a bit crazy. ;o)
The cathedral


  1. Brasília has always fascinated me a bit - like Washington DC, a planned capital in the middle of the country (well, DC was when it was founded). It sounds like people complain about Brasilia's weather as much as people do about DC's.

  2. Hi Gori!
    When I went there with A. he had quite a different perspective, asking me: "What's the big deal of building a city from nothing? We have tons of examples in India where kings just built new cities on a whim!". And I must say that Hampi and Aurangabad do seem quite impressive as compared to Brasilia. Let's see how Brasilia will look in some centuries!