Discover the 9 essential things to do in Brasilia

The must-see things to see in Brasilia


  • 1. Brasilia Cathedral
  • 2. The Brasilia TV Tower
  • 3. The National Congress of Brazil
  • 4. JK Memorial
  • 5. The Alvorada Palace
  • 6. The Brasilia National Park
  • 7. The Don Bosco Sanctuary
  • 8. Museums (Museu Nacional and Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil)
  • 9. Go explore the surroundings of Brasilia

The futuristic city of Brasilia remains an architectural monument on its own. It took the title of political and administrative capital of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro in 1960. It became one of the most recently built capitals in the world but also one of the fastest built cities (2000 days), under the leadership visionary of President Juscelino Kubitschek, architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.

Seen from the air, the design of Brasilia evokes the shape of an airplane (or a hummingbird), with each of its architectural marvels strategically placed along the Eixo Monumental (which constitutes the fuselage), and its residential blocks and trading along its outstretched wings. This follows Lucio Costa’s pilot plan .

If the city is quite difficult to visit on foot, here are the attractions that you should not miss on the spot:

1. Brasilia Cathedral

Brasília Cathedral
Metropolitan Cathedral Nossa Senhora Aparecida de Brasília – Flickr – Sandy Kemsley

This modern cathedral is impressive: 16 curved concrete columns weighing 90 tons each make up the structure of the building. The latter is hyperboloid, where sturdiness and decoration go hand in hand. The architecture resembles Niemeyer ‘s other projects , elegant and simple, but differs from the religious buildings with its magnificent blue-green glass panels designed by Franco-Brazilian artist Marianne Peretti. The entrance is through the basement, where four giant statues representing the Evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke (on the left) and John (on the right) welcome you.

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2. The Brasilia TV Tower

Brasilia TV Tower View
View from the tower – Flickr – Carlos Mejía Greene

The observation deck located 75 m high on the TV tower gives a nice overview of the city, especially on the Eixo Monumental where many attractions are located. It is certainly not enough to be able to guess the shape of the plane Brasilia has from the sky, but the entrance is free .

3. The National Congress of Brazil

Brasilia Congress
Flickr—Eduardo Aigner

The Congresso Nacional do Brazil is made up of several buildings, characterized by the twin towers (the parliament office towers), the domed Senate building , and the bowl-shaped Chamber of Deputies . The architectural ensemble is located on the main axis of the city (as can be seen from the TV Tower). The twin towers are deliberately shifted to the left to give a bit of dynamism to this meticulous city plan.

In front of the congress, we find the Square of the Three Powers which contains the judicial power (Federal Supreme Court) on the left, the legislative power in the center (National Congress) and the executive power on the right (Planalto Palace).

4. JK Memorial

Memorial JK Brasilia
Flickr – k.del1

JK’s grave (of President Juscelino Kubitschek) is under these strange but beautiful stained glass windows designed by French artist Marianne Peretti, inside the JK Memorial . The museum houses a very personal library of 3000 books of the former president as well as an illustrated history of Brasília. Don’t miss JK’s 1973 Ford Galaxie just out the back door.

5. The Alvorada Palace

Alvorada Palace, Brasilia
Wikimedia – Thum_Fel

Official presidential residence, the Palácio da Alvorada is a building of Niemeyer (again him). It was the first building in the city to be inaugurated, in 1958, two years before the very inauguration of the city. Its name means “Palace of the Dawn” , in reference to JK’s description of Brasília as “the new dawn in the history of Brazil”.

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The gates are guarded by the elegant Dragões da Independencia (Dragons of Independence), soldiers of a special regiment dating back to the War of Independence.

6. The Brasilia National Park

North of the city, the Parque Nacional de Brasília which measures 30 km² is a good place to relax or hike. There are natural pools here and the park is home to a number of endangered species including deer, anteaters, giant armadillos and maned wolves. Locals go there on weekends. To get there, you can take bus 128.1 from the bus station.

7. The Don Bosco Sanctuary

Don Bosco Brasilia Sanctuary
Flickr – Carlos Mejia Greene

The Dom Bosco Sanctuary is made up of 80 concrete columns that support 7500 pieces of illuminated Murano glass symbolizing a starry sky, which cast an underwater blue glow on the pews. The central chandelier weighs 2.5 tons and contains 435 bulbs!

8. Museums (Museu Nacional and Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil)

The Museu Nacional is the work of Oscar Niemeyer. It has a dome shape with an outer ramp giving the effect of a ring of Saturn. The museum offers temporary exhibitions and two auditoriums.

Brasilia’s most important contemporary museum ( Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil ) houses fascinating exhibits in two galleries, as well as an independent cinema, cafe, and bookstore. A free bus leaves every 90 minutes from Eixo Monumental (CCBB bus).

Pont Juscelino Kubitschek Brasilia
Flickr – Felipe Venancio

Behind this art museum, you can see the three-arch Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge spanning Lake Paranoá. This is another site not to be missed in Brasilia.

9. Go explore the surroundings of Brasilia

The surroundings of Brasilia are not devoid of interest:

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The Itiquira waterfall is just over 100 km from the capital. 168 meters high, it is the second tallest in Brazil. The places are protected from development and therefore offer exceptional natural beauty.

Itiquira Brasilia
Cascade d’Itiquira – Flickr – Marcus Paulo

Pirenópolis : known for its magnificent waterfalls and its Portuguese colonial architecture, this small town is located 150 km from Brasilia. Its nightlife and major popular jazz festivals make this city an ideal place to consider a stopover for more than one day.

Caldas Novas : A little over two hours drive from the capital, Caldas Novas is famous for its hot springs. These natural springs have many medicinal qualities. Perfect if you are looking for this kind of treatment, but perhaps avoid during hot weather.

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Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of this blog, 'Discover the World – The Blog for Curious Travelers.' Join me as we embark on a journey around the world, uncovering beautiful places, diverse cultures, and captivating stories. Additionally, we will delve into mysterious and, at times, even bizarre destinations.

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