Praça dos Trés Poderes

Top choice in Brasília

This square is a focal point of the city design, a synthesis of the ideas of architects Niemeyer and Costa, combining various monuments, museums and federal buildings. The space includes striking sculptures, including Bruno Giorgi’s Os Candangos, Alfredo Ceschiatti’s A Justiça and Niemeyer’s O Pombal (which looks like a clothespin). The 'three powers' of the name of the square are executive, legislative and judicial; the president's palace, supreme court and parliament are arranged around it in an equilateral triangle.

Also here is the monumental Pavilhão Nacional flagpole, the Panteão da Pátria e da Liberdade Tancredo Neves, a cenotaph commemorating Brazilian national heroes, and two museums detailing the history of Brasília's planning: the Espaço Lúcio Costa and the Museu da Cidade.

It’s worth visiting the plaza during the day and again at night for two very different experiences. After dark, surreal lighting casts an eerie glow across the futuristic buildings, as though they are being lit up by the landing lights of an alien spacecraft. Robberies have been reported here at night, though, so have a taxi wait for you while you visit.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Brasília attractions

1. Espaço Lúcio Costa

0.03 MILES

Down a concealed flight of steps on the praça itself is this museum to the man who designed Brasília. Inside you will find a 170-sq-meter scale map of the…

2. Museu da Cidade

0.05 MILES

Above the bust of Juscelino Kubitschek on the Praça dos Três Poderes is this mausoleum-like rectangular exhibition hall, only of interest if you read…

4. Pavilhão Nacional

0.09 MILES

On the first Sunday of the month the ceremonial changing of Brasília’s tallest and largest flag, a 286-sq-meter banner, takes place on the Pavilhão…

5. Palácio do Planalto

0.14 MILES

The Palácio do Planalto, where Brazil's president works, is another Niemeyer design that's worth seeing inside and out. From the curved lines of the…

6. Congresso Nacional

0.22 MILES

Featuring photogenic roof ‘dishes’ and twin towers, the Congresso Nacional has one of the more interesting interiors in the city. In addition to the color…

7. Palácio da Justiça


Water cascades between the arches of the Palácio de Justicia into a koi fish pond. Visitors cannot access the interior.

8. Palácio do Itamaraty

0.41 MILES

Palácio do Itamaraty is home to the Foreign Ministry and one of Brasília's most impressive buildings – a series of concrete arches towering over Burle…