The Top 10 Sights of Brasilia, Brazil

Brasilia is the largest planned city in the world. Its imposing appearance full of unique buildings amazed the whole world when it opened - here are our top 10 sights!

Once it was Rio de Janeiro - now Brasilia is the capital of Brazil. Brasilia is the largest city in the world, planned through and through on the drawing board. The then president Juscelino Kubitschek had his vision of a perfect city cast in concrete right in the middle of Brazil.


In just 5 years, Brasilia was tumbled out of the dusty soil of the Brazilian savannah and inaugurated on 21 April 1964 - before that, there was NOTHING here. Urban planner Lucio Costa, architect Oscar Niemeyer and landscape artist Burle Marx were able to realise themselves here. They decorated the planned city with their unique works, which earned Brasilia a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

For this reason, our top 10 sights of Brasilia are also mostly made of stone, steel and glass.

The centre of the capital is the impressive government district. During the week, the 200,000 civil servants who work in the government district, who make up about 10% of Brazil's population, scurry around here. At the weekend, the working people are at home and Brazil's government district is almost deserted.

Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro

The modern National Theatre of Brasilia is the ideal starting point for a tour of the government district. It was completed in 1966 according to plans by Oscar Niemeyer. It is named after the famous Brazilian composer Cláudio Santoro from Manaus, who died in Brasilia in 1989.

Square of the Three Powers (Praça dos Três Poderes)

Sculpture "The Warriors" ("The Candangos") by Bruno Giorgi at the Square of the Three Powers in the government district of Brasilia, Brazil - © ostill / Shutterstock
© ostill / Shutterstock

The spacious Praça dos Três Poderes forms the centre of Brasilia. The three powers, executive, legislative and judicial, meet here. The sculpture "The Warriors" ("The Candangos") by Bruno Giorgi is also enthroned in the square of the three powers.

In 1986, the Pantheon of the Fatherland and Freedom Tancredo Neves (Panteão da Pátria e da Liberdade Tancredo Neves) was opened on the west side of the square, which was previously undeveloped. The building is dedicated to Brazil's "national heroes", whether nationals or foreigners. The names of the national heroes are recorded in a book on the 3rd floor.

Presidential Palace

The futuristic Palácio do Planalto is enthroned on the north side of the square. This is the official working residence of the Brazilian president. The main entrance is only used during state visits and is guarded by the presidential guard. Otherwise, access is via the north entrance. On Sundays, there are 20-minute guided tours of the Presidential Palace.


National Congress

The mighty twin towers of the National Congress house the offices of the deputies and are connected by tunnels underground, Brasilia, Brazil - © ostill / Shutterstock
© ostill / Shutterstock

However, the Square of the Three Powers is not dominated by the Palácio do Planalto, but by the mighty twin towers of the National Congress. The two gigantic cylinders of steel and concrete house the offices of the members of parliament and are connected by tunnels underground to other associated buildings of the National Congress.

Supreme Court

The symbolic statue of the judiciary in front of the Supreme Court in the Square of the Three Powers in the government district of Brasilia, Brazil - © ostill / Shutterstock
© ostill / Shutterstock

The flat building of the Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal) completes the three powers. It is located on the south side of the square and is dominated by a huge snow-white flat roof. In front of it sits majestically the symbolic statue of the judiciary, blindfolded.

Catedral Metropolitana

The Brasilia Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) is one of the most impressive buildings in the government district and has room for 4,000 worshippers inside, Brazil - © ostill / Shutterstock
© ostill / Shutterstock

The Brasilia Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) is probably one of the most impressive buildings in the government district. At first glance, you would never think that this modern monster of glass, concrete and pointed spikes is supposed to be a cathedral.

On its circular, 70-metre floor plan, with 16 slender snow-white struts swinging upwards, the unusual church of Brasilia offers space for 4,000 worshippers. The cathedral is flooded with light in the sunshine thanks to the many glass panels, which are also brightly painted. The unique ceiling construction, from which three angel statues float, creates a very special flair.

Article: Catedral Metropolitana in Brasila
Photo gallery: Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia

Santuário Dom Bosco

The Santuário Dom Bosco, built directly on the 15th parallel, can also be described as an unusual church. It was dedicated to the patron saint of the city and opened its doors in 1963. Its exterior is much simpler than that of the cathedral, but its interior is equally impressive, as the entire interior is bordered by windows made of blue Murano glass.

The different shades are reminiscent of a starry night sky, giving the sanctuary an interesting, pleasantly cool atmosphere. The gigantic chandelier is also made of Murano glass. The huge cross above the altar was carved by Gotfredo Tralli from a single cedar.

National Museum in Brasilia ("Museu Nacional da República")

The futuristic National Museum of Brasilia at the Complexo Cultural da República is located right next to the equally unusual Brasilia Cathedral, Brazil - © ostill / Shutterstock
© ostill / Shutterstock

The Brazilian National Museum in Brasilia is also called the "Museu Nacional Honestino Guimarães", after the student leader Honestino Guimarães. The National Museum was inaugurated in 2006 with the exhibition "Niemeyer and Brasilia - Heritage of Humanity". Two massive ramps lead to the entrance of the dome-shaped museum.


In addition to the exhibition rooms, where new exhibitions are presented time and again, the museum also houses a laboratory and an auditorium that seats 780 visitors on its 14,500 square metres of floor space. The latter is often used for performances of operas, symphonies or chamber music.

Together with the National Library, the National Museum forms the cultural heart of Brazil. This Complexo Cultural da República is located directly on the Eixo Monumental, Brazil's main traffic artery. Both buildings were designed by Oscar Niemeyer and opened on 15 December 2006, on Niemeyer's 99th birthday.

National Library of Brasilia ("Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília")

Together with the National Museum, the National Library forms the Complexo Cultural da República in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, Brazil - © ostill / Shutterstock
© ostill / Shutterstock

The Brazilian National Library in Brasilia is one of the most powerful buildings in the government district of Brasilia. The impressive building is not seen as the guardian of Brazil's intellectual treasures, but as a library with an educational mission. In general, it is supposed to function as a service for the population.

With this in mind, it was also opened to the public in December 2008. Thus, the National Library of Brazil not only serves the preservation of cultural heritage or the research of scholars, but is also open to every private individual in Brazil.

The Brazilian National Library houses a massive literary collection of over 300,000 works in an area of 14 ,000 square metres. Until 2012, this collection was created exclusively through donations; it was not until 2013 that a budget was made available for the first time for the purchase of books and electronic documents. A separate section is dedicated to works on Brazilian themes. A number of reading and study rooms as well as lecture halls invite visitors to browse and listen.

Torre de TV (TV Tower)

View of the government district in Brasilia with its spacious squares and futuristic buildings designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil - © gary yim / Shutterstock
© gary yim / Shutterstock

The 224-metre-high Brasilia TV Tower offers a perfect overview of the completely symmetrical government district. The viewing platform is 74 metres above the ground and is accessible free of charge.

At the foot of the TV tower, the Feira do Torre market attracts locals and tourists with handicrafts and street food from all over Brazil. On Sundays, even more stalls are open than usual and the atmosphere is exuberant, reminiscent of a fair.


Tip: The best overview of the fantastic buildings and the enormous dimensions of the government quarter can be obtained in the course of a helicopter flight, which can be booked near the TV tower.

Lago Paranoá and Palácio do Alvorado

The Alvorada Palace is the residence of the Brazilian President and is located directly on the shore of Lake Paraná in Brasilia, Brazil - © gary yim / Shutterstock
© gary yim / Shutterstock

The "Palace of the Sunrise" is the seat of the current President of Brasilia. It was also built by Oscar Niemeyer, of course. Unfortunately, it cannot be visited from the inside, but its surroundings are also worth a visit.

The Palacio do Alvorado is located on a peninsula directly on the shore of the artificial Lago Paranoá. With its three islands, it is the sports and leisure centre of Brasilia. The lake, which has a maximum depth of 38 metres, is one of the cleanest lakes in the world and invites you to swim with its artificial beaches. Sailing, canoeing, rowing, wakeboarding and fishing are among the most popular water sports at Lago Paranoá.

Divers are also often seen here. Most of them are looking for the shipwreck or the village of Amaury, both of which lie at the bottom of the lake.

Spanning the lake are the 61-metre-high arches of the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, another landmark of the Brazilian capital. Named after Brazil's founder, the bridge was built by Alexandre Chan as an extension of the east-west axis Eixo Monumental.

Article: Lago Paranoá in Brasilia

Parque da Cidade

If you are looking for something green in Brasilia, the city park is the place to go. The gigantic leisure park can be driven through in its entirety by car. At weekends, half the population of Brasilia meets here, but the huge area never seems overcrowded.

Among its sights is the huge Juscelino Kubitschek Monument, also called the JK Memorial. The almost 5-metre-high statue is considered one of Oscar Niemeyer's best works. It shows the likeness of the president and the medals and honours he was awarded during his lifetime. To this day, Juscelino Kubitschek is revered in Brazil like no other president. His gravesite can also be found here.


Tip: There is also pure nature in the Brasilia National Park. It is located just outside the city centre. It is home to mineral springs and a large variety of plants and animals, including nandus, capybaras, armadillos, pampas deer, caimans, jaguars and anacondas. Also worth a visit is the Parque Municipal do Itiquira with the highest waterfall in Brazil.

Estadio Nacional

The Estádio Nacional de Brasília in the Brazilian capital Brasilia is a venue for the 2014 World Cup - © Elza Fiúza/ABr CC BY-SA2.5/W
© Elza Fiúza/ABr CC BY-SA2.5/W

Brazil's football stadium is the second largest st adium in the country after the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro and one of our top 13 football stadiums in Brazil. It was opened on 18 May 2013 for the 2014 World Cup. With (re)construction costs of 450 million euros, it was the most expensive venue of the 2014 World Cup.

Article: Brazil's 13 most important football stadiums

Emergence of the capital Brasilia

The dream of a new capital to be created for huge Brazil has been around since 1891, when the Italian priest (and current city patron) São João Bosco philosophised about a utopian city in the New World. The resolution for it was even enshrined in the constitution.

However, some time passed before the time came. Only President Juscelino Kubitschek, who began his term in 1956, implemented the project under the slogan "50 years of progress in five years".

Brasilia stands in stark contrast to the country's famous colonial cities, which were built over centuries. In contrast, Brasilia is an avant-garde city cast in concrete, planned from top to bottom, and the only capital in the world to have been developed entirely on the drawing board.

If you look at the ground plan of Brasilia from a bird's eye view, you can see the shape of an aeroplane. The Square of the Three Powers represents the cockpit, the fuselage houses government, cultural buildings, hotels and banks, and the wings house the residential areas of Brasilia's population.