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The aim to transfer the federal capital from Rio de Janeiro to the heart of Brazil was an idea that President Juscelino Kubitschek carried out to develop and populate the country's interior.
The basic structure of Brasilia was completed in just four years, from 1956 to 1960, under the leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek, with the slogan "fifty years of progress in five", and the city is in a sense a memorial to him. The cathedral has six columns representing two hands reaching up to almighty heaven.
The city is designed in the shape of a giant bird or airplane, with various separated zones assigned for specific functions such as housing, commerce, hospitals and banking. Running down the center of the "airplane's" fuselage is the thoroughfare called the Eixo Monumental ("Monumental Axis") and at one end lay the government buildings. The arched "wings" are residential zones, with several rows of medium-rise apartment blocks with small commercial districts. The intersection is the commercial and cultural hub, with stores, hotels, and the cathedral. A huge artificial lake serves the city as both a leisure area and to diminish the effects of low humidity in drier months (see Climate below).
Fifty-three years after its creation (1960), Brasilia is still developing a culture of its own. The city has often been criticized as a failed utopia where rationalized modernist planning has buried the human element. Yet Brazilians are quite proud of their capital, embodying a vision of a future when Brazil is no longer considered merely a "developing" country.
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The FIFA World Cup 2014 will be held in Brazil. It takes place from 12 June to 13 July 2014. It will be the second time that Brazil has hosted the competition, the previous being in 1950. The national teams of 32 countries will join the second biggest sports event in the world (after the Olympic Games). A total of 64 matches are to be played in twelve cities across Brazil, with the tournament beginning with a group stage. For the first time at a World Cup Finals, the matches will use goal-line technology. Twelve locations will be World Cup host cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo. They cover all the main regions of Brazil and create more evenly distributed hosting than the 1950 finals in Brazil provided, when matches were concentrated in the south-east and south. As a result the tournament will require significant long-distance travel for teams. Brazil opens the tournament against Croatia, played in Sao Paulo on the 12th of June, and the final will be played on the 13th of July in Rio de Janeiro.
Brasilia has a (sub)tropical climate with generally warm weather year round. Average maximum temperatures are between 26 °C and 29 °C, while nights average between 14 °C and 18 °C, except for the wintermonths of June to August when it is slightly colder. May to September is the dry period while most of the rain falls between November and March, averaging around 70 mm a month, on about 20 days each month.
Brasilia International Airport (BSB) serves domestic and a few international flights. The main destinations served are Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Fortaleza, Cuiaba, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Belem, Curitiba, Florianopolis, Atlanta, Curacao,
Natal, Recife, Buenos Aires, Havana, Miami, Panama City and Lisbon.
Drivers coming from southern and Center-west states will arrive by the Saída Sul entrance. From other states, you'll enter Brasilia by Saída Norte. After you're inside the Federal District, keep following the Brasília indicating traffic signs and Zona Central if you're staying at the hotel sector. The Eixo Rodoviário Road, that crosses the city's south, central, and north sectors, can be identified by the characteristics double strip of yellow raised pavement markers (Cat's eye) separating the two lanes of the road.
Due to its central location, Brasilia is well served by a bus network that connects it with the rest of Brazil. Travel times are about 15 hours from São Paulo, 18 hours from Rio, 10 hours from Belo Horizonte and 3 hours from Goiânia. Buses from other states arrive at a dedicated bus station called rodoferroviaria (phone:+55 61 3363-4045), that is located at the west end of the axis and is connected to the city center by bus (number 131, frequency each 10-20 minutes, from 5:00am to midnight) and taxis.
If you are not using "city tour" services, it would be a good idea to have a car available. The urbanistic plan of Brasilia was highly based on individual motorized transportation, so it is not surprising that a visit to the city will be much more pleasing having a car.
Unlike other Brazilian big cities, traffic in Brasilia is not a major problem, although there are some jams during rush hours.
There are public parking lots available at main sites, although it can be hard to find spots sometimes. As in other Brazilian towns, there usually are some "watchers", people that offers to watch your car (supposedly to protect it from robbers), expecting to get some money in return; they usually behave like beggars, although they can turn violent towards the cars if not paid, scratching or chipping the paint job, so it would avoid some trouble to just give a little money, something around 2 reais. If it bothers you, you can always park your car a little further from the main destinations, where there are no watchers, or in a paid garage, when available.
Taxis are relatively expensive in Brasilia and usually cannot be hailed on the streets. Taxi stands, however, are close to all tourist attractions and any hotel will be able to call a cab or provide the phone number of the best known dispatch offices. All taxis must have taximeters and can start charging only after the passenger has boarded.
Most local buses start from or go through the rodoviária, at the precise center of the city, and run along the "wings" - serving the residential zones - or through the Monumental Axis. Some bus lines are very useful for moving around, as they link the central area of Brasilia (Setor Comercial, Setor de Diversões etc.) to Esplanada dos Ministérios, the airport and some of the main avenues (L2 and W3). These used to be stripped red-and-white buses called "zebrinhas" (little zebras) but now they are only distinguished from other bus lines by their numbers.
Unlike many other Brazilian cities, passengers in Brasilia board buses by the front door. Buses must be flagged, otherwise they will only stop when a passenger requests to hop off. Single fares are R$2.00 for travel within Brasília. There is no advance sale of tickets, pay as you board.
The Metrô subway system started operating in 2001. Its Y-shaped line starts in the main bus station (Rodoviária de Brasília - "Central" station) and makes its first stop at Setor Comercial Sul ("Galeria" station), which is fairly near some hotels South of Monumental Axis. It runs along the south wing, stopping at blocks 102, 108, 112 and 114, then going through suburbs. The subway uses to operate 6:00am-11:30pm from Monday to Friday (some stations stop selling tickets at 10:30pm), and from 7:00am-7:00pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Its common to be offered special timelines on some holidays, like New Year's Eve and the April 21st (city's anniversary).
It's not particularly useful for tourists, as it does not visit the main attractions but does stop at attractions such as the Buddhist Temple (EQS 115/116, access by "114 Sul" Station). Single fare: R$3.00, R$2.00 on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Before going on the subway remember to have pocket money in small bills or coins - the Metro doesn't accept credit cards and won't give change above R$20.
It is advisable to rent a car or take other forms of transportation to move around in the city. All distances are too big to go from one side to the other by foot.
Brasilia does not have a typical, regional cuisine. Nevertheless, restaurants serve food from many Brazilian states, as well as international fare. Self-service (por quilo) restaurants are very common and usually cheaper than their à la carte counterparts. Most of Brasilia's "real" (table service) restaurants are located at the residential wings, usually a bus or taxi ride away from most tourist attractions. One of the most popular streets is the CLS 405 (from rodoviaria, take bus 114), with choices ranging from sushi to Brazilian, Mexican and French food. Regarding tips, visitors are expected to pay at least 10% of the bill. Such amount is commonly printed on the invoice and most of the time it's OK to include the tip in your credit/debit card since most of the restaurants share the total amount with all employees. Self-service restaurants usually don't charge tips.
Despite not being particularly famous for its nightlife, Brasilia has some hangouts that save visitors from night-time boredom. Please observe that smoking on the dance floor is not allowed - all clubs have a smoking area, so people can smoke (or just get some fresh air) without leaving the club.
Most of the city's accommodation is located at the Hotel Sectors (SHS and SHN), two central areas located on both sides of Eixo Monumental. During weekdays, hotels are usually busy due to the capital's political activity and it is advisable to book in advance. Typical prices are R$200 for a double room and R$95 for a single. Most ot the hotels have an off-price for the weekends.
|Esplanada Brasilia Hotel||SHS Quadra 03, Bloco E Setor Sul||HOTEL||-|
|Hotel El Pilar||SHN Quadra 3 Bloco F Setor Norte||HOTEL||-|
|Casamatta Hostel Pirenopolis||Av Meia Lua, QD32/33 LT 2 Pirenopolis||HOSTEL||-|
|Hostel7 Brasilia||SCLRN 708 Bloco I Loja 20, Brasília||HOSTEL||-|
Internet cafes (Lan houses) are increasingly common, and even small towns often have at least one spot with more or less decent connections.
An increasing number of hotels, airports and shopping malls also offer hotspots for Wi-Fi with your laptop computer or of course smartphone. Sometimes it is free, sometimes you need to register and there is a time limite and sometimes you need to pay a small amount for (day) use.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to Brazil is: 55. To make an international call from , the code is: 0014. All cities use the following emergency numbers: 190 (police), 192 (medical) and 193 (fire department). However, if you dial 911 or 112 while in Brazil, you will be redirected to the police.
Brazil uses two-digit area codes, and phone numbers are eight digits long. Numbers beginning with digits 2 to 5 are land lines, while eight-digit numbers beginning with digits 6 to 9 are mobile phones.
Public payphones use disposable prepaid cards, which come with 20, 40, 60 or 75 credits. The discount for buying cards with larger denominations is marginal. Phone booths are nearly everywhere, and all cards can be used in all booths, regardless of the owner phone company. Cards can be bought from many small shops, and almost all news agents sell them.
Brazil has 4 national mobile operators: Vivo (Telefónica Group), Claro (Telmex/América Móvil Group), OI and TIM (Telecom Italia Group), all of them running GSM and HSDPA/HSPA+ networks. Pay-as-you-go (pré-pago) SIM cards for GSM phones are widely available in places like newsstands, drugstores, supermarkets, retail shops, etc.
Correios is the national postal service of Brazil. It is a government run postal service and overseen by the Brazilian Ministry of Communications. Post offices are generally open from Monday to Friday from 09:00am to 5:00pm, although post offices located in shopping malls have their own opening hours, usually from 10:00am to 10:00pm. There are no set opening hours at weekends and as post office owners can choose when to open and close. More and more post offices are open until 1:00pm on Saturdays though. You can check things at the nearest post office.
Sending postcards, letters and parcels is a rather straightforward process and services are reliable, though not overly fast when sending post internationally, mostly taking about a week to the USA and Europe, and there is a track-and-trace service for this as well. Domestically, there are both next day as well as more expensive same day delivery options. Stamps are available at post offices, as well as some kiosks or other places where they sell postcards.
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