Can Brasilia really be just 50 years old?

Brasilia Cathedral, Brasília (Photo: Victor Soares/ABr)

When the new capital of Brazil was dedicated by President Juscelino Kubitschek on April 21, 1960, its grand avenues, laid out by Lucio Costa, and dramatic modernist buildings by architect Oscar Niemeyer seemed to symbolize one thing: the crisp newness of the modern world, unburdened by history or context.

In fact, Kubitschek was so eager to call attention to the city — built from scratch in a remote spot 600 miles inland from the old capital of Rio de Janeiro — that he held the dedication ceremony while most of Brasilia was still under a cloud of construction dust. The president was in a hurry not only to craft an up-to-date Brazilian identity but to mark a clean break with the nation’s complex past.


Christopher Hawthorne
Los Angeles Times