Brasília, the capital of Brazil, will be 50 years old on April 21st and the city is getting a face lift. For example, the Metropolitan Cathedral, with its huge crown of concrete thorns, is undergoing a major renovation that began eight months ago and will not be complete until long after the city celebrates its next anniversary.
However, the exterior area of the temple will be ready for the celebrations and the archbishop of Brasília, Dom João Braz de Avis, says he intends to hold a mass there on April 21st, no matter what. The church itself is scheduled to be open to the public again only in 2011.
Marcelo Abreu Noleto sells souvenirs in front of the cathedral and is not too happy with the situation. He says that with the outside of the building shrouded in enormous sheets of plastic and entrance not permitted, most tourists just take a couple of pictures and then drive off. He is not selling very much these days. “A lot of visitors don’t even get out of their cars,” he complains.
On the other side of the Esplanada (Mall), down at the other end, is the Brazilian White House, the Palácio do Planalto. It is also undergoing some big changes.
Much of the building has practically been gutted so the president’s workplace can be modernized. The work there has a 88 million reais (US$ 51 million) budget compared to 25 million reais (US$ 14 million) for the cathedral and includes a new 500-car underground garage.
Authorities promise that it will be ready on April 21.
Meanwhile, in the area around the base of the TV tower a permanent bazaar and artisan fair will be moved to another location so tourists can move around with more ease.