Centenarian Oscar Niemeyer, the internationally acclaimed architect, just published a book with photos of the 16 gorgeous churches and chapels he conceived. A historic communist – who designed the headquarters of the French Communist Party and never rejected his Stalinist views -, he explained this way his many religious projects (on daily paper Folha de S. Paulo):
I felt that I should explain it, because I am a communist and have been working on so many churches. But I was born in a very religious family. My grandfather was religious. The house where I used to live had five windows and one of them was converted into an oratory by my grandmother. We had masses at home. All this is very natural. Continue reading Communist Niemeyer’s churches→
You decided to make a list of all the absolutely must-see Brazilian sites – but don’t know how to begin it? Here is a great starting point.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared 18 Brazilian places of outstanding historic or environmental value UNESCO World Heritage sites. They are a precious guide for those who want to discover the country’s riches. I have visited most of them and couldn’t agree more with the selection.
See below the full list and the UNESCO’s justification for its choices:
The most graphic city in the world becomes middle aged today. Fifty years later, Brasília’s curves, ramps, wide avenues and huge open spaces keep their freshness.
Conceived by architect Oscar Niemeyer and urbanist Lúcio Costa to host the Brazilian federal government, Brasília was custom made to fulfill president Juscelino Kubitschek’s utopia. He dreamed of a modernist city right in the middle of the country, many hundreds of kilometers away from the coast and any major city. It was meant to integrate and develop areas that were scarcely occupied and also to remove the high bureaucracy from Rio, the former capital, a city full of distractions.
To Brasília converge not only all the power, but also all of those prone to mysticism. Many believe the city has a special energy, whatever that means. This legend began with Dom Bosco, the Italian saint that founded the Salesian order in the 19th century. In a vision, he saw a promised land of immense riches that would be the epicenter of a new civilization. It would be built in the next four generations and would be roughly located where Brasília was established. Many Brasilienses believe the capital materializes that vision.
Several esoteric groups congregate in the capital. The most famous is Vale do Amanhecer (Dawn Valley), that believes that we descend from extraterrestrials that colonized the planet 32,000 years ago. These revelations were made by the group’s main founder, known as Tia Neiva, who believed she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra and Nefertiti. Vale do Amanhecer mixes spiritualism, Christian concepts, plus African, Mayan and Roma traditions.
In the following video, a cool summary of the pioneering years of this very peculiar city:
Oscar Niemeyer, the centenary Brazilian architect that gained world fame for his sculptural reinforced concrete buildings, is still producing in an almost compulsive rhythm.
His signature is everywhere – not only in Brasília, the country’s capital and the main showcase of his creativity. During the last decade, he designed at least a dozen new projects, including a couple of museums and an annex for the Serpentine Gallery in the Hyde Park, in London. This week an impressive group of buildings by Niemeyer were inaugurated in Belo Horizonte. They will host Minas Gerais state government headquarters. The project, that cost over R$ 1 billion (US$ 560 million), includes two 15-floor towers and an auditorium. Continue reading Niemeyer at 102→