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Introducing Brasília

Well into middle age, Brazil’s once futuristic capital remains an impressive monument to national initiative. Brasília replaced Rio de Janeiro as Brazil’s center of government in 1960 under the visionary leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek, architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Burle Marx.

From the air, Brasília’s millennial design evokes the image of an airplane (or a hummingbird, if you prefer), with each of its architectural marvels strategically laid out along the Eixo Monumental (which forms the fuselage), and its residential and commercial blocks along its outspread wings (asas).

With long distances and harrowing six-lane highways connected by spaghetti junctions to negotiate, Brasília is not really a city for walkers. Though renting a car is trial by fire, the big picture becomes all the more clear from behind a steering wheel. To get the full effect of the layout, however, you should take a tour of the city by air.