Going back from the first weekend off the city, we stopped in Pampulha district, where the lake with the same name is located (Lagoa da Pampulha). It’s not a natural water tank, it was created in 1940s when the mayor of the city was Juscelino Kubitschek (later the president of Brazil). The architect was Oscar Niemeyer, one of if not the most important Brazilian Modernists. Pampulha is considered a signature of the city, so it’s a must-see here!
The perimeter of the lake reaches 18 km and the place is perfect for walks and jogging, so the presence of many Brazilians after work is not surprising at all.
The Pampulha Lake is not just a water tank, the site is known as the Pampulha Modern Ensemble (Conjunto Arquitetônico da Pampulha), created by Niemeyer, Roberto Burle Marx and other Brazilian artists. There are a casino, a ballroom (Casa de Baile) or the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi here. The place is the earliest and most important example of Modernism in Brazil. What’s more, in July 2016 the area became an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other buildings around the lake are: the zoo, the amusement park, the Mineirão and Mineirinho stadiums, tennis club or the botanical garden.
There is an interesting story around the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi (Igreja de Sao Francisco de Assis), the construction of which caused a little controversy. Because of the original and unusual form of the church and the fresco by Candido Portinari on the wall, the archbishop Dom Antonio dos Santos Cabral refused to consecrate it and proclaimed it unfit for religious purposes. The consecration happened 16 years later, in 1959, when the builiding was refurbished and when the following archbishop, João Rezende Costa, was in charge.
You can meet capibaras around the lake, but my visit was too short to notice them. Anyway, I found the time to try the coconut water (agua de coco), straight from the source!