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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Dec 2, 2013

Brasilia

The sights and sounds of Brasilia.

Snapshot: Brasilia has a modernist landscape, designed by urban planner Lucio Costa and legendary architect Oscar Niemeyer, with a mix of swooping freeways and urban zoning -- there's a restaurant sector, an embassies sector and a banking sector, with lower-income workers being forced out to the neighbouring cidades-satelites (satellite cities). What there isn't, unfortunately, is a football sector -- most of Brasilia supports one of the big teams from the southeast. But the architecture is enough to keep visitors impressed for a few days, and as the seat of government there's no shortage of options when it comes to eating and drinking.

Getting there: It is an easy journey if you stay either in the Hotel Sector North or Hotel Sector South, which are under 4 miles away from the stadium. If you'd rather not walk, subway line 151 should take you to the stadium in a matter of 10 minutes. A taxi from the Hotel sectors should cost you about $10-15. Driving is not advised, considering the capital's constant traffic jams.

Where/what to eat: Even though there's not much originality in the local gastronomy, the abundance of politicians, government employees and lobbyists has brought plenty of excellent places to eat. Many of the best restaurants of Sao Paulo, Rio and Salvador have opened branches here, so if you want to go the institutional way, you won't regret it. You will find some of them -- Bargaco, Fogo de Chao, etc. -- at Pontao, a beautiful jetty that overlooks the lake.

However, if you want to try something less formal, check out Fred's picadinho (Sul 405 Bloco B, Loja 10) for some tasty minced meat, a true classic of the capital. Also, you should head to 209-210 Bloco B, a street with many restaurants where creative options are available, such as Universal Diner (210, Bloco B, Loja 30), which makes for an enjoyable and satisfying (stomach-wise) evening. Indeed, Universal Diner serves fine risottos, in particular one complemented with duck.

Don't be surprised to see high levels of traffic in Brasilia.
Don't be surprised to see high levels of traffic in Brasilia.

Where/what to drink: In the aforementioned restaurant street you will also find many excellent places to raise a pint and meet locals. Chiquita Bacana (209 BI A, Loja 37), with great beer and atmosphere, is a good option. An even funkier one, Loca Como Tu Madre (306 Bloco C, Loja 36), becomes hectic by 18.00 local time, and then carries on until dinner. If you want to eat something after drinks, the legendary Beirute (109 Sul, Bloco A), a local institution, will get your energy back with delicious Arabic food.

Where to stay: Hotels are located either on the lake at Pontao (amazing views, but more isolated) or in the aptly named "Hotel Sector North" and "Hotel Sector South" (both of them almost together), where you will be much closer to most restaurants and bars -- as well as the stadium.

Area trivia: The Brazilian capital is puzzling even for its natives, so it can be quite an experience for international visitors, many of whom do not know it is the centre of the country's administrative life.

Built up at the end of the 1950s as part of a project of national integration, Brasilia obeyed a rigorous urban planning that created specific sectors for housing, hotels and so forth. Hence, many streets look identical, with few landmarks to help you get your bearings. Since its inauguration in 1960, the population grew five times more than the 500,000 ideal threshold.

AC Milan star Kaka was born in Gama, a district southwest of Brasilia's centre. "Kaka lived in Brasilia for four years before leaving for Cuiaba because of his father's job," according to his former club Real Madrid's official website. Gama's rivals Brasiliense, which were formed in 2000, have Romarinho, the son of legendary forward Romario, on their books.

Sightseeing: A young city, Brasilia hasn't got much history, but its futurist architecture, courtesy of the legendary Oscar Niemeyer, is an attraction. Public buildings such as the Brazilian National Congress and the Alvorada (the presidential palace) are both a good fit for sci-fi blockbusters and can be appreciated at surprisingly close quarters.

Estadio Nacional opened: 2012

Matches to be played at Estadio Nacional: Switzerland vs. Ecuador (June 15), Colombia vs. Ivory Coast (June 19), Cameroon vs. Brazil (June 23), Portugal vs. Ghana (June 26). The stadium will also host a quarterfinal.

Capacity: 68,009

Cost to build: Reportedly in excess of 980 million reals ($450 million; 280 million pounds)

Stadium history: Previously in its place was the Nacional Mane Garrincha, which opened in 1974 and was named after Brazil's "little bird," who helped his nation to back-to-back World Cup trophies.

Stadium trivia: The Nacional Mane Garrincha was all but demolished in 2010 to make way for the Estadio Nacional. The new version has many bells and whistles, including a lowered pitch to improve viewing for the spectators, while FIFA has been keen to talk up its environmental credentials as it aims to be carbon neutral.

At a reported $450 million, the Estadio Nacional is said to be the most expensive of all 12 venues.
At a reported $450 million, the Estadio Nacional is said to be the most expensive of all 12 venues.

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