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Cathedral of Brasília (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

One might assume that Brasília, the capital of Brazil, has been around for more than a century, but in reality, it was built on an impressive timeline of just 41 months, from 1956 to 1960. Brazil’s capital for the longest time was the extremely populated Rio de Janeiro, but then the government decided it was essential for the capital to be moved to the center of the country. And so, Brasília was born!

Brasília, the Capital of Innovation
Unlike other host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2014, Brasília is unique in that it was entirely a planned city. As part of the country’s “50 years of prosperity in 5″ plan, Brazil’s president at the time, Juscelino Kubitschek, and urban planner Lúcio Costa approached Oscar Niemeyer about becoming the chief architect in designing the new city’s public buildings.

At the time, Niemeyer was the youngest and most influential designer on the team, having served as the architectural mastermind behind the United Nations Headquarters in New York City roughly a decade before. From the moment he signed onto the project, Niemeyer turned Brasilia into his playground, creating buildings with modern and surreal architecture that could reflect the young capital’s innovativeness. Years later, UNESCO cited Brasília as a World Heritage site.

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Photography by Getty Images

Brazil lost one of its geniuses this week. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away on Wednesday, but he left behind a legacy of work that tourists and locals will admire forever. The 104-year-old architect was known for his modernist design style and he collaborated with other architects to design memorable works of art such as the United Nations building in NYC.

In 1959, Niemeyer was tasked with designing Brasilia from the ground up when it was chosen as Brazil’s new capital. He was the chief architect responsible for many public buildings — breathing life into a city once steeped in its colonial and baroque past.

Today, his architecture can be found all around the world, including Place du Colonel Fabien in Paris, the Cathedral of Brasilia, Mondadori Publishing Company’s headquarters in Milan and the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro.

Niemeyer’s curvaceous style has inspired young architects to dream, and tourists may feel inspired after visiting the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Center in Asturias, Spain, or the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (NovoMuseu) in Curitiba, Brazil.

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