Esplanade of Ministries
Brasilia: Brazil political center
Brazil is a Presidentialist Republic. The President of the Republic is at once Chief of State and Chief of Government. As President, he has the powers to appoint and dismiss Ministries at any time.
Right after taking office, in 2003, President Lula expanded the Cabinet to 36 Ministries, the largest ever. In 2005, the number shrunk a bit, to 33 Ministries.
In 2013, President Dilma created a few more, reaching 40 Ministries (see wikipedia for an up to date list).
A few Ministers have offices in the Palácio do Planalto, next to the President. Most Ministries are installed in large buildings distributed along both sides of the Monumental Axis, near the Three Powers Square. This stretch of the Monumental Axis is called Esplanada dos Ministérios (Esplanade of Ministries). Check out this map of the Esplanade of Ministries.
The buildings were designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Instead of inovation, Niemeyer went for practicity: buildings are large, easy to access, all with parking loots (which were large enough back in the days, but are usually full up nowadays). Each building has an Annex, connected by a catwalk.
The original intention was to order the Ministries by age: the older the Ministry, the closer to the Presidential Palace; this is why the Ministries of Justice, Armed Forces and Finances are the ones closest to the President. However, with the successive creation and extinguishment of Ministries, that ordering is not strict any more.
All buildings have a similar design, with two exceptions: the Palace of Justice, office of the Ministry of Justice, and the Itamaraty Palace, office of the Foreign Relations Ministry.
The Esplanade is an area of high concentration of civil servants. Expect traffic jams during the peak hours.