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Brasilia's Dramatic Architecture Draws World Cup Tourists

  • Nicolas Pinault

Fans from all around the world come to Brazil for soccer and tourism. Among the 12 venues for the FIFA World Cup, one is unique: Brasilia.

Built 50 years ago in the country's central highlands to replace Rio de Janeiro as Brazil's capital, Brasilia is an architectural gem envisioned by renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Niemeyer, who conceived the United Nations building in New York, received carte blanche to design Brasilia 50 years ago with fellow architect, Lucio Costa

In 1987, it was designated a Historical and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO.

Twenty-seven years later, tourists like Cesar Augusto Quintero are enjoying the city.

"Wonderful, wonderful," he said. "I discovered this city with futuristic projections. It's beautiful."

Niemeyer's style is certainly not conventional. The best example is the city's cathedral. You are not really impressed when you see it from the outside. But once inside, the light and shapes reveal themselves.

"It's different from traditional churches but it's good," said Ana Gonzales, a tourist. "Inside, it is very bright. It's contemporary but it's beautiful."

The two million people who live Brasilia enjoy everyday treasures like the National Museum.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry building, Palacio da Alvorada, is also something to see for the 500,000 tourists expected in Brasilia during the World Cup.

Francois, a tourist from Ivory Coast who gives only his first name, is not really surprised by the city.

"There are lots of touristic sites, spaces, and I think it is good for life," he said. "The architecture here is modern. It makes me think about my own political capital, Yamoussoukro. I think that our former president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, visited Brasilia and got inspired to build Yamoussoukro."

While Brasilia may not have Rio's beaches or the Iguazu Falls, Oscar Niemeyer's touch alone is worth the visit.

The global architecture of Oscar Niemeyer