Overland Travel Blogs
11Jul 2016
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Top 5 Planned & Unique Capital Cities

As an Australian, I am no stranger to a planned (invented?) capital city – Australia’s capital, Canberra, was designed and built in the 1920s as Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t decide between them which city should be the capital. But Canberra is just one of many planned capital cities around the world; here are our top…

Uppatasanti (Peace) Pagoda, Naypyidaw

As an Australian, I am no stranger to a planned (invented?) capital city – Australia’s capital, Canberra, was designed and built in the 1920s as Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t decide between them which city should be the capital. But Canberra is just one of many planned capital cities around the world; here are our top 5 planned & unique capital cities you can visit on overland tours.

Yamoussoukro – Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast, or Cote d’Ivoire, has had its fair share of capital cities, but in 1964 the President made plans to make Yamoussoukro, his birthplace, the new capital city, and nearly 20 years later, in 1983 Yamoussoukro became the political and administrative capital of the Ivory Coast.

Yamoussoukro is home to the Notre-Dame de la Paix, the world’s largest basilica, and tallest church.

Read more: Find out more about the Notre-Dame de la Paix

Notre-Dame de la Paix, Ivory Coast

Notre-Dame de la Paix, Ivory Coast

Ashgabat – Turkmenistan

Unlike the planned cities on this list, Ashgabat is Turkmenistan’s largest city as well as being its governmental and administrative capital.  However Ashgabat’s place on this list of unique capital cities is secured by the fact that since independence from the Soviet Union, Ashgabat has undergone an incredible transformation with the building of incredible government buildings, mosques, museums and monuments, mostly in white marble.  In fact, the city has been awarded no less than 6 Guinness World Records including most fountain pools in a public place (2008), largest indoor ferris wheel (2012), highest density of white marble-clad buildings (2013) and most people singing in a round (2015).  Quite remarkable for a city located in the middle of the hottest desert in Central Asia, and a truly unforgettable place to visit.

The Wedding Palace in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The Wedding Palace in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Ashgabat is a unique travel destination

Overview of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s white-marble-clad capital

Statues line many streets in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Statues line many streets in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Brasilia – Brazil

Technically speaking Brasilia is not a city at all, it is an Administrative Region of the Federal District, but when you arrive it certainly feels like a city, albeit one with a very unique personality.  The title of capital city had been held by both Salvador and Rio de Janeiro prior to 1960 when the new capital, Brasilia, became the country’s capital, only 4 years after construction had started on the new city (and well before it had been finished!).

In a country of beautiful cities and passionate people, Brasilia feels somewhat sterile and characterless perhaps as a result of the fact that this city was designed from scratch based on the “Pilot Plan”.  It is however home to some beautiful buildings, including the Catedral Metropolitana Noss Senhora Aparecida (Cathedral) and is a fascinating example of urban planning.

Read more: Brasilia was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987 – here’s what UNESCO have to say about the city and why it made the list

Interior of Dom Bosco Sanctuary, Brasilia

Interior of Dom Bosco Sanctuary, Brasilia

Cathedral, Brasilia

Catedral Metropolitana Noss Senhora Aparecida, Brasilia

Exterior of Dom Bosco Sanctuary, Brasilia

Exterior of Dom Bosco Sanctuary, Brasilia

Napypyitaw – Burma / Myanmar

Like Brasilia (or Canberra), Naypyitaw is a planned city.  Prior to 2006, the capital of Myanmar (also known as Burma) was Yangon (also known as Rangoon), and today Yangon remains the country’s largest city and commercial centre. However administrative functions including the government and military are based in the new city, and construction is continuing including residential, hotels and shopping areas.  The city doesn’t have that much to offer in terms of attractions for travellers, but it provides a fascinating contrast to Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s established cities.

Uppatasanti (Peace) Pagoda, Naypyidaw

Uppatasanti (Peace) Pagoda, Naypyidaw

New Capital of Egypt

In 2015 the Government of Egypt announced that a new administrative and business capital would be built about 45km from Cairo.  This is a massive project, officially it is aimed at easing the pressure on Cairo, Africa’s most populous city.  You might not be able to travel to this (as yet) unnamed city right now, but with preparations for the construction having started in April this year and a partnership with the Chinese government for the construction, Cairo may not be Egypt’s capital for much longer…

Read more: this is the official marketing site for the new city, but nonetheless it has some fascinating facts and figures about the proposed new city

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." 
Mark Twain

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