RealWorld Guide to Brasilia
By the 1820s, the south-east of Brazil was becoming heavily populated and the object of some resentment from the rest of the country. Rio was the capital of the country and Sao Paulo was fast becoming the industrial and commercial focal point of Brazil. In an effort to avoid localizing all of the power in one area of the country, it was suggested that a totally new capital city be founded in the north, in the same way American chose to create Washington D.C. as a new capital to avoid giving too much power and influence to New York or Philadelphia.
Anyone who has had to deal with Brazilian bureaucracy won’t be at all surprised that it took over 60 years for this idea to become a real plan. It was included in the constitution in 1891, but it wasn't until 1952 that the actual construction of Brasilia was finally set underway by President Juscelino Kubitschek, supervised by Brazil's leading architect, Oscar Niemeyer. His stunning modernist buildings, such as the Cathedral and the National Congress, have made Brasilia a holiday Mecca for architecture buffs and make you feel a bit like you’ve stepped into a Buck Rogers film.
This is because Brasilia was conceived as the perfect future city, where there would be no need for traffic lights, where houses, shops and restaurants were all set out in planned sectors and in perfect proportions, and where the central area looked like a plane from the air (although many swear it’s a butterfly). That one raised a few eyebrows even back then, but whether it's a plane, a butterfly, or just a pretty pattern, the fact is that as a city, Brasilia has been quite a success. It's cleaner, smarter and arguably has fewer social problems than many of Brazil's large cities, even though its population has grown rapidly in recent years.
As well as being home to the parliament and government ministries, Brasilia is home to 124 foreign embassies since the Brazilian government finally ordered them out of Rio in 1973. Interesting though Brasilia is, if you had to choose where to live, you'd most likely pick Rio, wouldn't you? Most of the ambassadors clearly agreed - in fact the Brits manage to hold out in Rio until 1983, when they were more or less told: come to Brasilia or get out! While it may not have the verve or exuberance of Rio, Brasilia is well worth a visit as it really is like nowhere else on earth. If you're at all interested in architecture or even would just like to see how people envisaged the future in the 1950s then a holiday in Brasilia makes for a fascinating trip.
Getting to Brasilia
Brasilia isn’t particularly near most places that tours visit, but the way that flight schedules and routes work out means there’s often a stop here between the south and Amazon or northern beaches. Instead of just spending an hour or so in the airport, it’s a nice idea to plan in a couple of days to explore or take a guided tour of Brasilia. There are numerous direct flights with both TAM and Gol daily from most major cities including Rio, Sao Paulo, Manaus, and Cuiaba. In case you’ve chosen not to have a transfer from the airport, it’s important to remember that the airport is outside the city’s metro system, and you’ll need to either get a taxi or a bus to the metro or the city itself.
Weather in Brasilia
The central Serrão, where Brasilia is located essentially has two seasons: rainy and dry. The majority of Brasilia’s heaviest rainfall happens from November to February, and most people prefer to plan their tour of Brasilia in the drier, cooler months from May to July.