The Catedral Metropolitana in the government district of Brasilia is one of the most unusual places of worship in the world because of its futuristic appearance.
The Brasilia Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) is located in the government district of Brazil's capital and is probably one of the most impressive buildings in Brazil. The unique building attracts around one million visitors a year, making it the most visited attraction in Brazil. The futuristic place of worship also features on our lists of the Top 10 Sights of Brasilia and the Top 10 Sights of Brazil.
The full name of the cathedral is Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida ("Municipal Cathedral of Our Lady Who Has Appeared") and it was designed by the world-famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
The construction of the cathedral was somewhat delayed because after the resignation of President Juscelino Kubitschek, the new government no longer secured the financing. Nevertheless, the ceremonial opening of the Catedral Metropolitana took place on 31 May 1970, after it had already been consecrated two years earlier - still without a roof.
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PICTURES: Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia
Photo gallery: Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia
The Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia - actually a place of worship?
At first glance, you would never think that this modern monstrosity of glass, concrete and pointed spikes is supposed to be a Catholic church. But far from it. The first indication of a sacred building is the huge, snow-white cross on the roof of the cathedral. On its circular, 70-metre ground plan, 16 snow-white struts, each weighing 90 tonnes, swing upwards. Underneath, the unusual place of worship in Brasilia offers space for 4,000 worshippers.
The unusual appearance of the cathedral, which incidentally is one of the few buildings in Brasilia that was not planned as a cube, is interpreted in many different ways. Some see its hyperbolic struts as the crown of thorns of Christ, praying hands reaching towards heaven, an opening flower or the crown of Mother Mary.
Most striking sight in the centre of Brazil
Guarding the square in front of the cathedral are four larger-than-life statues by the artist Dante Croce, representing the four evangelists. Also in front of the cathedral is the bell tower, which has an appearance as unusual as the cathedral itself. Its four bells, donated by Spain, are fixed in a horizontal row on a 20m high concrete mast.
Visit to the Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia
The Brasilia Cathedral is open to visitors every day except during mass celebrations. The Catedral Metropolitana can be entered through a dark tunnel and is mostly underground. The 16 huge fibreglass panels of the roof, which are also artistically painted, flood the cathedral with light when the sun shines. The interior is relatively empty. Above the altar is an egg-shaped sculpture, a symbol of the origin of life.
The openings in the walls of the crypt will one day house the coffins of Brazil's deceased bishops. From the unique ceiling construction, float three statues of angels up to 4m tall, weighing 100, 200 and 300kg by Alfredo Ceschiatti, giving the cathedral a very special atmosphere.
Tip: The circular concrete base of the Catedral Metropolitana means that sound is transmitted particularly well inside the cathedral. A normal spoken word can still be heard at a distance of 20m.
In 2012, the Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia was generously renovated. In the course of this, the glass tiles hand-painted by Marianne Peretti, and therefore of varying thickness, were replaced by industrially manufactured tiles from Germany.