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BRASILIA

Brasília, the capital of Brazil and the seat of government of the Distrito Federal, is a planned city. Inaugurated in 1960 in the Central Highlands of Brazil, it is a masterpiece of modernist architecture listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and attracts architecture aficionados worldwide.

The basic structure of Brasilia was completed in just four years, from 1956 to 1960, under the leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek, with the slogan "fifty years of progress in five", and the city is in a sense a memorial to him. The cathedral has six columns representing two hands reaching up to almighty heaven.

The city is designed in the shape of a giant bird or airplane, with various separated zones assigned for specific functions such as housing, commerce, hospitals and banking. Running down the center of the "airplane's" fuselage is the thoroughfare called the Eixo Monumental ("Monumental Axis") and at one end lay the government buildings. The arched "wings" are residential zones, with several rows of medium-rise apartment blocks with small commercial districts. The intersection is the commercial and cultural hub, with stores, hotels, and the cathedral. A huge artificial lake serves the city as both a leisure area and to diminish the effects of low humidity in drier months.

The Three Powers Square is located at the eastern end of the Monumental Axis. Includes the seats of the country's 3 highest authorities: the Congress, the Presidential Palace (called Palácio do Planalto) and the Supreme Court. The axis itself is aligned such that on April 21 (Tiradentes Day, marking the death of the Brazilian independence martyr), the sun rises precisely between the two towers of Congress. The bronze statue of two abstract figures is named Os Candangos and represents the pioneering spirit of the workers who built the city. There's also a "blind justice" statue by the Supreme Court, a small museum about Juscelino Kubitschek, the Pantheon, the Eternal Flame monument, and a model, built to scale, of Brasilia itself, in an underground space.

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