The important buildings in Brasilia were all designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer. His strength has always been with form and his weakness detailing, materials and landscaping. Niemeyer prefers to work purely with bare concrete.
In Brasilia Niemeyer was teamed up with Brazil's best landscape designer, Roberto Burle Marx, and detailing- and materials-focused architects like Milton Ramos, and talented sculptors and artists like Alfredo Ceschiatti. Every building also had to conform to the total plan of Lúcio Costa. The result is a collection of buildings that has rightly been called the highest expression of architectural Modernism on earth. Niemeyer's work is scattered throughout the city.
Praça dos Três Poderes:
Behind the Congress building, the Praça dos Três Poderes (Square of the 3 Powers) is immediately identifiable by the huge Brazilian flag flapping 99 m above the ground. The square is named after the 3 government branches that surround it: the legislative branch in the Congresso Nacional, the judiciary in the Supremo Tribunal Federal and the executive in the presidential PalÃ¡cio do Planalto. In between these imposing buildings there are several monuments and memorials, among which the JK Museum, the National Pantheon and various sculptures. The square itself is nothing but buildings designed by the architect Niemeyer; a vast area of pure white stone.
Palacio do Planalto:
The Palacio do Planalto (Palace of the Plateau) is the seat of the government's executive branch. It has a marble and glass facade, designed by Niemeyer, who used curved and straight lines to obtain an artistic effect. The reception is located on the ground floor. The 1st floor contains the meeting and reception halls as well as banquet halls. The president's office is located on the 2nd floor and the Civil and Military Cabinet offices are on the 3rd floor. It is only open for visitors on special occasions.
Supremo Tribunal Federal:
Facing the Planalto Palace across the square is the Supreme Court, with a monument to Justice in front of it. On the ground floor are the main courtroom and meeting rooms. On the 1st floor is the Noble Hall, the Chief's office, the Council Hall and the offices of the Attorney General. The 2nd floor houses an 80,000 volume library.
The Congress is located between the Supreme Court and the Planalto Palace. It is composed of twin towers (administration), a concave saucer (the Senate) and a convex saucer (the Chamber of Deputies). The ramp between the towers was created to form an "H" for "Humanity".
The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies are open for visitors.
The main building has 2 floors, a basement and the meeting rooms of the 2 houses. The winter gardens were designed by Burle Marx and the ceramic tiles by Athos Bulcão.
Espaço Lúcio Costa:
This is an underground construction, which contains a detailed model of the city, covering some 170 m2. On the surrounding walls there are text and sketches presented by Lúcio Costa for the national contest to design the city, in 1957. It is located at the Square of the 3 Powers and the creation was an initiative of the architect Niemeyer in honor of Lúcio Costa.
Museu de Cidade:
Located near the front of the square, this museum is a bare marble room with 8 inscriptions on each long wall telling the story of Brasilia.
Panteão da Patria Tancredo Neves:
Towards the southern side of the square there is the Panteão da Patria Tancredo Neves. It was built to commemorate Tancredo Neves, who died on the eve of his inauguration as President of Brazil in 1985, the first civilian president after 20 years of military rule. The monument was designed by Niemeyer in the shape of a dove to represent freedom and democracy.
This park was designed by urban planner Lúcio Costa, architect Niemeyer and landscape artist Burle Marx. Its infrastructure is completely recreational. There are jogging and cycle paths, soccer fields, a lake with an area for fishing, pedal-boats and kayaks, snack bars, a restaurant and lot's more facilities.
Palacio do Itamaraty:
One of the most beautiful Modernist structures ever created (designed by Niemeyer with landscaping by Burle Marx and detailing by Milton Ramos), the Palacio do Itamaraty now serves as a ceremonial reception hall for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The ultra-modern structure; mostly open space inside, is decorated with rich antique furnishings, Persian carpets, hand-carved jacaranda-wood furniture, and 18th and 19th century paintings.
Palacio da Alvorada:
The Palace of Dawn is the official residence of the Republic President and was designed by Niemeyer. Many former presidents chose not to live here due to its lack of comfort. It is located on the lakeside, some 3 km from the Planalto Palace and is not open for visitors.
Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida:
Located on the south side of the Monumental Axis, Brasilia's Cathedral was completed in 1967 after 12 years of construction. It is dedicated to the patron saint of Brasilia, Our Lady of Aparecida.
The cathedral is circular in shape in symbolizes 2 hands united in prayer. On the access way to the church are 4 bronze statues by Ceschiatti, representing Christ's disciples. The entrance curves down and goes through a dark passage, called the Meditation Area; the darkness symbolizes the time before creation.
The nave itself is underground and is illuminated by the natural light which filters through the stained-glassed walls. At the top, where the 16 curved columns come together, there is a metal cross, blessed by Pope VI. Inside 3 Ceschiatti angels are hanging from the ceiling, which announce the arrival of Christ. The floors are made of white marble, especially imported from Italy, with an expanse of glass overhead.
This monument was built in 1980 by Niemeyer to honor the founder of Brasilia, Juscelino Kubitschek. The monument is a tall pole topped by a statue of Kubitschek inside a crescent moon. The Memorial is built on Brasilia's first Mass and its circular chapel contains JK's tomb. The museum's entrance goes through an underground area designed by Niemeyer. It has rooms containing the original plans for the city, JK's personal library, his clothes and medals and pictures and documents from childhood to his last days. There is also some fairly interesting information about Brasilia, including photographs of the city under construction and copies of the designs that didn't get chosen.
Torre de TelevisÃ£o (TV Tower):
From this 75 meters high tower it is possible to see the city from a platform. On evenings, many visitors climb up the tower to admire Brasilia's wonderful sunset.
Over there is also located Museu Nacional de Gemas, with Brazilian stone exhibitions and a craftwork street market.
Designed by Niemeyer, Catetinho is a simple wooden building built near the Brasilia construction site. This was JK's residence during the city building. The so-called "wooden board palace" was built in only 10 days. Nowadays, it is a museum containing part of the former President's library, as well as his furniture and personal belongings.
Memorial dos Povos Indigenas:
Architect Oscar Niemeyer modeled the Monument to the Indigenous Peoples on the houses of the Bororo Indians. Just before the Memorial was completed it was redesignated as an arts museum, until the uproar caused it to be re-redesignated. So far, however, it seems underutilized. Varying exhibits highlight the art and daily life of Brazilian Indians. Headdresses of amazingly colorful feathers, pottery, baskets, hammocks, nets, spears, and paddles are on display.