Brasilia looks like a giant university campus at first sight.
The futuristic capital city built from scratch on savannah ranch land in the middle of nowhere was meant to open up the interior of Brazil and symbolize its rise as an economic power.
Fifty-five years later, Brasilia's modern buildings designed by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer and laid out by urban planner Lúcio Costa are still imposing, an open-air museum on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Politicians flee for their hometowns on weekends, but the one-time provincial backwater has mushroomed into a bustling capital of 3 million people surrounded by growing high-rise satellite cities and teeming slums.
Its airport is the country's third-busiest, its income per capita the highest in Brazil, as is its divorce rate.
Brasilia boasts Brazil's second-largest and most costly stadium, the 68,000-seat Estádio Nacional, a colonnaded arena that joins Niemeyer's edifices on the capital's civic mall.
The stadium, perhaps destined to become a white elephant since the city has no top-level soccer teams, will host seven games during the World Cup starting in June, including Colombia vs Ivory Coast, Cameroon vs Brazil, Portugal vs Ghana, and a quarter-final.
Brasilia was built for people with wheels and its planners gave little thought to pedestrians. But the city center will be closed off to traffic on game days, allowing soccer fans to walk from the hotel district to the stadium.
Here are some tips for enjoying Brasilia from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.
Even if you are not an architect, don't miss Niemeyer's amazing buildings, which seem to float above the ground, lifted only by pillars that curve upward like hammocks.
A stroll from the hotel district will bring you to the National Museum, a windowless dome that would not look out of place on a Star Trek set.
Next is the Metropolitan Cathedral, a Niemeyer masterpiece, even though he was a communist and an atheist. The roof is shaped like the crown of thorns Christ wore during his crucifixion. Bright light pours through a stained-glass ceiling that seems to hover miraculously unsupported. Archangels hang in mid-air. Most of the cathedral is below ground, with only the roof visible from afar.
At the end of the mall, Niemeyer buildings that house the three branches of government face off across a square dominated by the convex and concave roofs of the chambers of Congress. According to popular lore, the roof of the lower house is shaped like a bowl to collect the money politicians reputedly pocket.
For many, the nearby Foreign Ministry building, or Itamaraty Palace, is the most exquisite of Niemeyer's edifices thanks to its tall arches and a spiral staircase with no banister that curls down from the mezzanine into a column-free entrance hall.
For a glimpse of the utopian city Niemeyer and Costa had in mind, grab a cab to Brasilia's Super Square 107/108 South (don't waste time trying to figure out the maddeningly complex though perfectly logical address system they devised for the city!).
The square has its own school, cinema, sports club and the charming little Fatima chapel designed to look like a nun's hat, the first building to be inaugurated in Brasilia.
The model neighborhood had different-sized apartments to house both government officials and workers - a socialist vision shattered by reality as shanty towns formed around the planned city before it was even finished.
Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector called Brasilia, which is 784 miles (1,262 km) from the nearest ocean, "a beach with no sea" because of the brightness of its light.
It may not have a beach, but the Brazilian capital has a man-made lake so large that it sports more motor boats and sailing boats than many coastal cities.
There is no better place to escape to on a hot day in t