Brasília, the capital of Brazil, is located in just about the center of the country. It’s a fairly young capital, inaugurated in 1960 and is especially popular with architects because of all of the buildings by Oscar Niemeyer.
Of all the Brazilians I know, only my professor had been there. Up until my trip, I had only stopped at the Brasília airport as a brief layover. Honestly, if my friend wasn’t an architect,Brasília probably wouldn’t have been on my radar to visit while I’m here. Here’s to architects and side trips!
8:40am– Arrive in Brasília (Took the 6am flight… YOLO?). I did enjoy being among all the smartly dressed business people and possibly politicians on our crack of dawn flight from São Paulo.
9:10 am– We took a quick taxi to Ernesto Cafés Especias . A quick google search brought them up as a nice coffee shop to visit and the internet was spot on! Lovely café and great food options, with a really nice patio out back to enjoy the morning sun and to get a peek at Oscar Niemeyer style apartments*.
*My friend educated me at this point, because the apartments reminded me of dorms and felt very European, that the U.S. tried to mimic this compact apartment style with common spaces which resulted in what became our housing projects. We did not do a very good job with them…
10:10am– Time to take in the Oscar Niemeyer “plane” lay out of buildings. Uber is alive and well in Brasília (yay!) and we went over to Memorial JK. There is an underground mini-museum area beneath the memorial that costs R$10 to enter.
We decided to walk the entire length of this interconnected mall of buildings. There isn’t too much shade along the way so come prepared, with sunscreen or a hat. We noticed that there wasn’t an officially designated sidewalk in parts so we stuck to the bike bath.
We then came across the Memorial dos Povos Indigenas. It has a very interesting design and it was free. (All museums we saw were free. Sometimes the guard or attendant will ask you to sign a registry book with name and country.) The museum had some modern art drawn from indigenous tribes but I would have preferred to see art from the tribes themselves or learn some more history about them.
A good distance later and we were finally at the square with the Complexo Cultural da Republica and the Museu Nacional. (Both free) They might ask you to place your items in an individual locker while browsing the Museu.
12:30pm– We then made our way to the beautiful Catedral Metropolitana, but right in the middle of noon mass. (whoops!) So we waited outside for the mass to be let out before going inside to enjoy the stained glass. I did see a gift shop in here but it was not open and we needed to move on.
Lastly, we ended our tour of the “airplane” taking in the Senado Federal, Confresso Nacional, and Camara dos Deputados buildings. They had some nice signs with information about the buildings in Portuguese and English. This seemed like a popular destination with tour buses full of young Brazilians taking photos along with us.
You can make this walk probably in about 2.5 hours taking in brief stops at some of the points. It’s roughly 6km from start to finish and walking from Memorial JK to Congress was pleasant as it was a gradual downward decline in elevation.
2:30pm– We caught a late lunch at Mangai that we got to with another Uber which is a somewhat upscale por kilo (by weight) restaurant known to have a LARGE selection of dishes, especially from the Northeast. It was nice to take a break, take in some food, and recharge my phone.
3:30pm-After lunch, we planned to visit Alvorada Palace but were turned back because it was closed (impeachment, anyone?). Our Uber driver recommended that we could check out Portão and enjoy the lake front a bit. Portão was really nice! It has a lot of restaurants, a nice walk way along the lake with benches, and put us in a spot closer to the airport so we had less traffic to beat.
6:00pm– Headed back to the airport to go back to São Paulo!
All in all, it was a really fun, jam-packed day in Brasília! I think my favorite building was the Memorial dos Povos Indigenas. It is a really cool structure and the interior layout reminded me of the inside of a snail shell. I wish the museums would utilize their exhibits more and have a gift shop. The only place that had one was the Cathedral and it was closed. I just like to keep my postcard game strong is all. We did find a few souvenirs in the Brasília airport (but no postcards!).