The Impossible Search For Brasilia’s Soul


We arrived in Brasilia on the back of five magical days in Belo Horizonte, it promised much, this is after all the capital city of Brazil, and if Rio and BH were anything to go by this city surely could not disappoint….

Our initial excitement had been dampened somewhat by the reaction on people’s faces when we told them we would be spending 11 nights in Brasilia, sheer confusion as to what the hell we would do for such a period of time here. We had little choice but to carry on regardless of these opinions, we were to see 3 games in Brasilia and there are games almost every day so I was confident that if necessary, football would be our saviour.

Peering out of the plane window as we landed did not fill me with much hope, below us were perfectly straight lines of streetlights and roads shaped monotonously into the image of an aircraft cockpit, why, I have no idea but from this moment I had little but niggling trepidation for the place. I continued to dismiss these pre judgements, thinking that despite what the city may hold we are in the thick of the greatest football show on the planet and due to the number of games played in Brasilia there would be a swathe of international visitors supporting their teams’ colours.

First and foremost the host of our airbnb apartment was a useless prick who rose to such levels of ‘uselessness and prickdom’ that I have reserved a special post for him HERE. We Brits however are not like the Yank stereotype and even in the face of poor customer service and acute rudeness we’ll always soldier on, and that we did.

I don’t want to drone on for eternity about the misgivings of this place, but I swear to God, Allah and Vishnu that given the opportunity I could verbally take this city down, I am not so melancholic. So I intend to keep this short, sweet and as pain free as possible. I also want to make it clear that my friend and I had a great time here, but it was our ‘laugh in the face of adversity’ attitude, the kindness of a few and ‘the beautiful game’ which takes responsibility for this and certainly not this hollow and purpose built city.

I have discussed the games visited in other posts so I’ll keep this location based…

Basically Brasilia is like living in 1984, I would be stunned to learn that it was not based on the PC game ‘Sim City,’ every building is tall, square and faceless, they are all perfect, too perfect, whether it be a place of work or a place to live you can guarantee that you will be in a mundane box of some description. We’ve concluded that Brasilia wants you to stay in your box, pavements are sparse so you must leave your box, get into the moving box and then arrive at your box location, before returning back to your own box at the end of the day.

Everything in Brasilia is miles away! We spoke to two friends who said the live very close to each other, their idea of ‘very close’ was a 10 minute drive. This might not be so bad if there was anything to look at during the drive, but there isn’t, there is nothing but vast areas of nothingness and construction sites (no doubt building more boxes!)

Brasilia is considered to be a living exhibition of the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, and in truth the buildings in the city which he designed are mesmerising, the unique Cathedral with its hyperboloid structure, the university and the National Theatre among many many others are arguably Brasilia’s redeeming features ( something I’d argue against.) Not designed by Niemeyer but phenomenal nonetheless is the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, another great piece of work. Niemeyer’s style was that of a modernist/futurist he loved curves and ‘Jetson’s’ like design, such a shame then that despite his input, the rest of the city was designed like a space age game of Jenga!!

One of the few heart warming moments I had here was when potentially the most beautiful couple in the world started talking to us about a good place to go for drinks as we were leaving the impressive Garrincha stadium, as you can imagine there was nowhere close to go so they proceeded to put us in their car and take us to an amazing bar with football, food and a phenomenal view, a nice part of Brasilia but equally as functional in its purpose as the rest of it, the couple were not from Brasilia, read into that what you will.

All told I would not recommend that you visit here, were you to visit Brazil, there is no character, no soul, no heart, you will not see a building that “used to be a …..” Nor will you be stunned by the culture of a bygone era and you certainly will not see a need to embrace any local traditions…there are none.

My spirit has been dampened but not doused, roll on Rio!!

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