Praça dos Cristais, Brasília’s Crystal Shaped Sculpture Park

Praça dos Cristais and its quaint mid-pond statues

photography by: Omri Westmark

Reading time: minutes

If you were to randomly ask the residents of Brasília whether they know about Praça dos Cristais, the most probable answer will be a resounding no. Located in front of the Brazilian army headquarters, the off-beat park is home to a large-scale pond, beautifully peppered with a series of crystal shaped monoliths and mini-islets.

Despite being Brazil’s third most populated city, Brasília is not as dense as its other counterparts like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Instead, the city is home to an incalculable number of parks, lawns as well as hundreds of verdant backyards, sandwiched between its iconic apartment blocks. With so much green space wherever you look, it is often easy to ignore the lesser-known parks.


Tucked away along Avenida do Exército, right next to a massive military complex, Praça dos Cristais (aka the Civic Square) owes its anonymity to its unassuming location. Inaugurated in 1970, the triangular park was designed by the illustrious landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx and his devoted assistant, Haruyoshi Ono.


Encompassing an area of more than 10 hectares, the green plaza is comprised of several gardened and paved areas, all of which are centered around an oddly-shaped pool. Jutting from the shallow waters are several small isles which can be accessed by pathways made of stepping stones. The true centerpieces of the park, however, are its multiple crystal shaped sculptures strewn throughout the pond, hence its name “Praça dos Cristais” (The Park of the Crystals).


Story has it that Burle Marx and Ono came up with the unconventional idea during their visit to the city of Cristalina, where they found a glut of crystal rocks. Captivated by the mesmerizing sights, the two artists decided to sprinkle the mini-lake with dozens of jagged slabs of stone, modeled after a cluster of crystal formations.


In addition to the naturally inspired sculptures, there were originally 53 species of plants, with the vast majority of which brought from the Cerrado region, a part of the country which is mostly dominated by expansive savannahs and grasslands. Over the years, the square fell into a state of disrepair, with its water mirrors being left empty for twenty years or so. Following a thorough face-lift in 2009, Praça dos Cristais regained much of its former beauty and yet, in spite of its rejuvenation, visitors who opt to come here will probably have the entire place solely for themselves.