Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Touring Brasília: The TV Tower

Happy Wednesday, TrekkieWonk readers. It's another gray, rainy, cold day here in Washington, but at least it's Wednesday. It's been raining for three or four days straight now: it doesn't even feel like May will be here tomorrow. With no sunshine outside, I figured it's only right to share some sunshine from my October 2013 trip to Brasília. 

On the first day I was in Brasília, I took the metro from where I was staying into the downtown stop, right underneath Brasília's main bus terminal (#11 on the map above). From there, I planned to walk up and down the Monumental Axis, thinking I would be walking along something similar to the National Mall in Washington, DC. However, when I emerged from the underground metro station and started walking, this was the sight that greeted me:

I felt like I was walking along an expressway in Houston, Texas. The Monumental Axis was not pedestrian friendly, and it was much, MUCH bigger than the National Mall in Washington. On the right side of photo above, you can see the TV Tower poking into the sky in the distance. I had a long way to walk in the October sunshine of Brasília to reach the Tower.

As I walked, I noted the buildings around me and felt even more like I was in Texas. Giant hotels and corporate buildings along the Eixo Monumental echoed memories of buildings I had seen when visiting Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. The lone pedestrian on the left side of the photo above reminded me of how weird it is to walk in cities which are designed almost exclusively for cars. 

I soon realized that I was lucky to have seen one other pedestrian. As I forged on in the afternoon heat, my only company whizzed by in cars and motorcycles. At least I was making progress towards the TV Tower.

When I approached the TV Tower, I realized that they were doing major construction around the base of the Tower, and the entire Tower was closed to tourists. I stopped to take a picture of myself with the dirty, empty sidewalks behind me. I felt like Indiana Jones on lone mission across the desert.

As I looked around, I saw that there was a large Artisanal Fair directly behind the tower. When I went down to the fair, I saw that the majority of the little kiosks were closed. I asked one of the open vendors about the fair, and she said that the kiosks are typically closed throughout the week. 

Since it was Friday, a few vendors were open for business, but everyone would be open on Saturday and Sunday. I made a mental note to return there to go shopping, and I ended up finding quite a few fun presents, including a squirrel puppet, jewelry and other decorative items involving polished stones, as well as some really well-designed t-shirts. I was quite pleased.

Having arrived at the hill where the TV Tower stood, I could see down the rest of the Eixo Monumental quite well. On the left side of the above photo, under the pink dots, are a grouping of hotels. Further down the Monumental Axis, under the yellow dots in the photos above and below, are Brazilian Ministerial or Governmental buildings. There are ten ministries on each side of the Axis, all in exactly identical buildings (it's creepy, but I'll get into that in another post). Even further down the Eixo Monumental, you can see the twin towers of the Brazilian Congress, situated under the red dot in the photos above and below.

The Television Tower itself didn't impress me much, but it did remind me a teeny, tiny bit of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (above right). 

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When I did my research later, I learned that the little hill where the TV Tower stands is indeed the highest point in Brasília. Inaugurated in 1967, the Television Tower stands 224 meters (735 ft) high. The observation deck is 75 meters (246 ft) high, and at 25 meters, there is a lower deck, which houses the National Museum of Gemstones. 

During my visit, I couldn't access the Tower at all, but if you like to see cities from above, the Brasília TV Tower is the place to go for an elevated view of Brasília, particularly down the Monumental Axis. Designed by Lúcio Costa, the Television Tower is one of a few important structures in Brasília that were NOT creations of Oscar Niemeyer. The Brasília Television Tower is also the third tallest structure in all of Brazil

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