Brasilia – the new capital

Saturday 3 to Monday 5 March

Evan had suggested Brasilia was a must see, especially for Bruce. A new capital city, like Canberra and Ottawa, it was created to bring the government from the cities of Sam Paolo and Rios de Janiero to a location that was more central in the country. Monumental architecture showcased the city.

We have found lots of references to Don Bosco, the Italian priest who founded the Salesian order which was committed to providing education for children. Although he never visited South America, schools named after him are everywhere on the continent. He did send a missionary of Salesian brothers to assist the Incas. 

It is said that Dom Bosco (in Portuguese) had a dream in 1883 where he saw a city’s location with the larger number of religious temples per square metre in Brazil. The location is present day Brasilia. 

Although the idea for the city was born 200 years earlier, it did not become a reality until 1960 after it was inaugurated by President Juscelino Kubitschek

Planning for the city began in 1956 after Lúcio Costa (1902-1998) won a competition for its planning. Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) was the principal architect for the civic buildings in Brasilia and the landscape architect was Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994). 

The city was designed with a central lake and a central avenue leading up from it, with intersecting streets to the north and south. Their curved design complements the shape of the Lake. It was designed to accommodate 500,000 people but has now grown to a population of 3 million with 27 outer districts adding to the accommodation. 

There is no big industry in Brasilia, that was banned at the time of development, although small industrial enterprises, that support the city, exist in the districts. Most people are therefore employed by the government or in commerce.

The buildings are grand and the streets well laid out. Typically it lacks the atmosphere of the older cities.

After the tour ended our guide Ire suggested we go to a native kilo restaurant for lunch as a group. Food is laid out, salads, rices, stews and Brazilian BBQ – long skewers packed with meat.  You grab a plate, make your selection and it is weighed. You pay by weight. Bruce and I made different choices except for a drumlet of chicken and a piece of pork sausage. Bad choice, we lost 24 hours, feeling very sorry for ourselves.

It was our first food poisoning in all our travels. I am sure our big mistake was having lunch early, the restaurant had just opened and we were probably served yesterday’s food.

After spending most of the day in our hotel room, we checked out late for our flight to the Amazon Forest.