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Cathedral of Brasília

The Cathedral of Brasília (Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida) is the Roman Catholic cathedral serving Brasília, Brazil, and serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Brasília. It was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and was completed and dedicated on May 31, 1970. The cathedral is a hyperboloid structure constructed from 16 concrete columns, weighing 90 tons each.

The exterior of the cathedral resembles the circular plan and ribbed structure of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, but the latter is clad in solid material, while the Cathedral of Brasília allows light in and out for almost the full height of the ribs.

Artistic interpretation

The Cathedral of Brasilia, officially the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady Aparecida (Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida), dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of Our Lady of Aparecida, proclaimed by the Church as Queen and Patroness of Brazil, is an expression of the architect Oscar Niemeyer.

This concrete-framed hyperboloid structure, seems with its glass roof to be reaching up, open, to heaven. On May 31, 1970, the Cathedral’s structure was finished, and only the 70 m diameter of the circular area were visible. Niemeyer's project of Cathedral of Brasília is based in the hyperboloid of revolution which sections are asymmetric. The hyperboloid structure itself is a result of 16 identical assembled concrete columns. These columns, having hyperbolic section and weighing 90 t, represent two hands moving upwards to heaven. The Cathedral was dedicated on May 31, 1970. The architecture was arguably inspired by the design of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Completed 4 years later, the ride Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) at Walt Disney World has similar architecture.


Projected by an atheist, it took several years for the cathedral to be consecrated. While an awing structure, inducing reverence from its entrance - first an open-air aisle sided by statues of the evangelists, with the synoptics on one side and John on the other, and then a dark, silent tunnel, leading to the main, naturally-iluminated nave dominated by three hanging angels in different sizes, giving a perspective illusion of heavenly profundity - the cathedral has seen relatively little use, as its acoustics echoed, jumbled and made it practically impossible to hear homilies, and the natural illumination in a very sunny city was not offset by proper ventilation. Reforms ongoing during 2010 were planned to fix these issues and allow for full utilisation of the building.

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