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Cathedral of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil

The Cathedral of Brazil (Por: Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida), which causes an admiration of many people, became the new capital's constructional masterpiece. It serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Brasilia. The church was designed by the Brazil's new capital general plan coauthor, the Pritzker prize winner (1988), the great architect Oscar Niemeyer. The first stone of the cathedral was laid on September, 12th, 1958. It is situated on the monumental axis of the capital, among the municipal and the federal buildings. The author was basically guided by the principles for the creation of harmonious, convenient and beautiful environment where a special role was given to landscape and surrounding buildings. His aim was the equilibration of the brutality of the concrete facades with the tenderness and lightness of the squares and the parks. The church is designed in modernist style. Officially the cathedral carries the name of Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida (Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida) and is devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the sacred patroness of Brazil.

The church is peculiar in shape - in the plan it is a circle with the 70 m. diameter and has a ribbed structure. The structure is constructed with sixteen parabolic columns which symbolize hands directed to heaven or sometimes is compared with the "thorn crown". When designing the building Niemeyer applied hyperbolic geometry, used reinforced concrete, metal and glass. The building is 40m. high, with floor space of 3848 m which can accommodate 4 000 worshippers. Belfry is located separately from the main building. Here everything is done to make a big impression. The most part of the cathedral is under the ground; from the outside visible only the dome, where the space between concrete columns was originally occupied with glass windows. In 1988 the columns were painted white, and the glass windows between them were replaced by stained-glass windows created by Marianne Peretti. The blue color prevails in windows and it gives a sense of coolness to the main hall. Each of the columns weighs 90 t. From outside the building is surrounded by water and for bigger visual effect the architect conceived the entrance through a long and dark underground corridor which leads to the main hall. Inside the hall there are three figures of angels which are suspended from the columns. The hanging angels inside and the sculptures of the four Evangelists guarding the temple's entry from outside were created by Alfredo Ceschiatti. The altar of the Cathedral was presented by the Pope Paul VI. No matter that great Niemeyer was an atheist: the Catholic Church has consecrated this graceful church in May 31, 1970, after main construction work was completed. Despite that the edifice is considered to be one of the masterpieces of human imagination, there are some imperfections related to acoustics and excessive illumination which haven't been solved yet.

By Ruzanna Mkrtchyan,


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