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Brasilia Travel Guide

Power Complex



Power Complex embraces many buildings like: Palácio do Planalto (Seat of Brazilian Government), Congresso Nacional, The Senate, Praça dos Três Poderes, Palácio do Itamaraty.

Palácio do Planalto
Palácio do Planalto is the seat of the Brazilian Government. The name means "Palace of the Plateau". Brasilia was built on the Central Brazilian Plateau, a large area which covers a few States in central Brazil. Often times, Brasilia is referred to as "o Planalto". The main working office of the President of the Republic is in the Palácio do Planalto. The President and his family, however, do not live in this palace; the official residence of the President is the Palácio da Alvorada. Besides the President, a few high advisors also have offices in the Planalto, including the vice-President and the Chief of Staff (one of the most influential Ministers in Brazil); the other Ministries are laid along the Esplanada dos Ministérios. The Palace is open to visitations on Sundays only, from 9:30 am to 1 pm.

Congresso Nacional and The Senate
The two hemi-spheres are the Plenaria of the Senate and the Federal Chamber. The hemi-shpere looking down is the Senate, and the other one is the Chamber. Why that? According to Niemayer, the Senate is by nature more conservative, whereas the Chamber is more opened to the popular clamor; so, the Senate was built more hermetic, and the Chamber more opened. Also, because the Senate and the Chamber have complementary functions (read further below), they were also shaped in a complementary way (each House could be stacked on top of the other). The two buildings in between the hemi-spheres are called Annex I and this is where part of the administrative staff of the Congress is located. These are the two tallest buildings in the Federal District; the Fire Department had to adapt their equipment to work at these buildings; two catwalks connect the buildings, in the 16th and 17th floors. Notice also that there other three Annexes to the Congress; Annexes II and III are under the soil; Annex IV is a 13 floor building with a restaurant on the top floor, which affords a nice view of the Three Powers Square. There are guided tours (in Portuguese only) to the Congress, daily from Monday through Friday. The tours usually include a visit to the Floors of both chambers. Usually, there are legislative sessions from Tuesday through Thursday, in the afternoons. Access to the offices of the Congressmen and Congresswomen are allowed, and it is common to come across Deputies and Senators in the corridors.

Praça dos Três Poderes
One may say that the Praça dos Três Poderes is the main reason of the existance of Brasília. The entire city was planned and built with this Square in mind. Praça dos Três Poderes means Three Powers Square. The seats of Legislative, Executive and Judiciary Powers are located around the square, making a nearly equilateral triangle.

Palácio do Itamaraty
Itamaraty Palace (Palácio do Itamaraty) is the name of the building of the head office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Itamaraty is one of Niemeyer's most radiant buildings. The bridge over an enormous ornamental pool dotted with islands of tropical plants leads to one of the largest public art collections in Brazil. The massive 220-square-meter (2,368 sq. ft.) main hall on the ground floor is free of columns and features a 2.3 meter-wide (7.5-foot) spiral staircase without a banister. Athos Bulcão created the embossed marble walls. Burle Marx designed the gardens, featuring plants from the Amazon region, and Bruno Giorgi (the same artist who created the Hanging Angels in the Brasilia Cathedral) carved the sculpture Meteoro from a single four-ton block of Carrar marble, which has been exposed in the water garden in front of the Palace since 1967. There are also numerous works by other great artists o display, including sculptures by Maria Martins, Victor Brecheret and Alfredo Ceschiatti, and paintings by Portinari, Manabu Mabe and Alfredo Volpi. Foreign artists such as Frans Post, Rugendas and Debret also depict scenes of Brazil's past.

The guided tour, free, lasts 40 minutes. Address: Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco H Opening hours: Mon-Fri 2pm - 4:30pm; Sat, Sun and holidays: 10am - 3:30pm.

The traditional photo that every tourist in Brasília must take is with the Capitol building just behind. On sundays you will find there a one hour tourist tour inside the Capital, which is very interesting.

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