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date: 28 November 2022

Brasilia: Relocating Brazil’s Capital Inlandlocked

Brasilia: Relocating Brazil’s Capital Inlandlocked

  • Farès el-DahdahFarès el-DahdahRice University School of Humanities


When Brasilia was inaugurated in 1960, the Serviço de Documentação (Documentation Service) in the Brazilian president’s office published a multivolume compendium of collected and annotated excerpts from historical antecedents that had considered the idea of relocating Brazil’s capital. Based on this publication, in addition to archival material from other sources, a history can be traced of a long-standing, even if discontinuous, desire to locate a capital in Brazil’s interior. It is a desire that can be framed within disparate political projects, such as the shifting away from Lisbon as the center of the Portuguese empire, the transformation of a colony into a kingdom, the liberal repudiation of an ancient régime monarchy located in South America, or the construction of a unified and modern Brazilian nation. Not only was a capital finally built in Brazil’s central plateau, but also the very architectural and urban form of Brasilia is today legally protected in perpetuity and on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. As a companion to the article, the reader can consult the website pilotPlan, a searchable digital atlas that illustrates the urban and architectural evolution of Brasilia, as it existed and as it was imagined.


  • History of Brazil
  • Urban History

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