Architecture in Brasília

Spotlight See more photos of Brasília’s famous architecture by visiting the Praça dos Três Poderes, Museu Nacional Honestino Guimarães, Palácio do Planalto, and Memorial JK location pages.

In the heart of Brazil lies Brasília, the country’s Federal Capital and fourth largest city. Brasília has another interesting claim to fame: it’s the largest city in the world that did not exist at the beginning of the 20th century.

Brasília’s construction began in 1956, led by urban planner Lúcio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer. Four years later, the city formally became Brazil’s national capital.

Niemeyer’s distinctive, grand modernist architecture defines the capital city, as does what some call a utopian city plan (its nickname is the “ilha da fantasia” or “fantasy island,” indicating the sharp contrast between the city and surrounding regions). When viewed from above, the main portion of Brasília resembles an airplane or a butterfly.