In 1814, Thomas Stamford Raffles, British lieutenant-governor of Java, hearing reports of the ruins, sent the Dutch engineer H. C. Cornelius to investigate. Cornelius found Borobudur so long neglected that his large work team took six weeks to clear vegetation and dirt enough to uncover only its outline. Spasmodic recovery work continued until the 1870s, when the last reliefs were exposed. But once the protective layer of soil was removed, the stone face began to deteriorate rapidly. Dr. Theodore van Erp began serious restoration in 1907, but it was discontinued after only four years. The newly independent Indonesian government took responsibility for preservation in the late 1940s, and a few years later it asked UNESCO for assistance. Consequently a major rescue project—costing U.S.$21 million and funded by the Indonesian government, UNESCO, private citizens, and foreign governments—-was initiated in 1971. The restoration of the monument was completed by February 1983.

Further reading

Dumarçay, Jacques. 1991. Borobudur. Singapore/New York: Oxford University Press.

Frédéric, Louis, and Jean-Louis Nou. 1996. Borobudur. New York: Abbeville Press.

Miksic, John, and Marcello Tranchini. 1990. Borobudur: Golden Tales of the Buddhas. New York: Random House.



Brasília, the inland capital of Brazil, stands in a largely isolated region nearly 750 miles (1.200 kilometers) northwest of Rio de Janeiro. The design and construction of the city in such a remote place, uninhabited before 1956, was a major logistical achievement in planning and urban design. Conceived on the scale and in the grand manner of L’Enfant’s Washington, D.C., of 1789–1791, it followed in the tradition of such cities as New Delhi, India (Lutyens and Baker, 1911–1931), and Canberra, Australia (Walter arid Marion Griffin, 1913–1920). With its tall blocks in expansive landscaped parks, Brasília translated into reality for the first time the radical urban theories only envisioned in H. Th. Wijdeveld’s Amsterdam 2000 (1919–1920) and a little later in Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse.

The plan to move Brazil’s capital from Rio de Janeiro to an inland site, secure from naval attack, had been mooted first around 1789, and it was continually revived for the next thirty turbulent years. In 1823, soon after independence from Portugal was proclaimed, José Bonifácio presented the Constituent Assembly with a bill to fulfill the intention and to name the new city Brasília. Social and political upheavals dotted the rest of the century: burgeoning population; rapid economic growth; the spread of railroads; revolts and insurrections; civil and foreign war; the rise and fall of the Brazilian Empire; and, over thirty-five years, the abolition of slavery. The republic was proclaimed at the end of 1889, and the constitution of the United States of Brazil was adopted in February 1891.

That document defined the general location of the future Federal District: somewhere within the state of Goias on the sparsely inhabited 3,609-foot-high (1,200-meter) Central Plateau. The Exploring Commission of the Brazilian Central Upland was appointed, and it selected a 5,700-square-mile (14,400-square-kilometer) area—the “Cruls Quadrilateral” (named for the commission’s Belgian leader, Louis Cruls). In 1953 a 2,300-square-mile (5,800-square-kilometer) section of it was chosen as the general site for the new capital. The announcement was expected to encourage a population movement westward into what was largely unused land, relieving urban congestion in Rio de Janeiro.

In September 1956 President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, promising Brazilians an economic development plan that he ambitiously called “Fifty Years in Five,” initiated the foundation of Brasília. A design competition for a Plano Piloto (pilot plan) attracted forty-one entries from twenty-six architects and urbanists, and in March 1957 that of the Brazilian Lúcio Costa was announced as winner. His design was described by the president of the competition jury. British architect-planner William Holford, as “a work of genius and one of the greatest contributions to contemporary urbanism.”