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Open doors: STF receives around 400 visitors in visitation days

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012.

Even during holidays, the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF) receives around 400 citizens per day of visitation. They are Brazilian and foreigners tourists, students and even residents of Brasilia that visit the headquarters of the Court on Saturdays and Sundays during the period of holidays. What there is in common between this so diversified group is the interest in the organization of the Supreme Court of the country and in the historic and art objects housed in the palace, projected by one of the greatest masters of architecture, Oscar Niemeyer.

The STF project Open Doors was created ten years ago for the purpose of attending the citizens interest in visiting the Court where fundamental decisions for the country are made. Every Saturday, Sunday and holidays, the Supreme Court opens the doors of its headquarters from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so that the visitors not only view the installations of the palace, but have a real class on the judiciary system and the Constitution. The walking tour is guided, free from charge and lasts for about half an hour. Groups of maximum 30 people are organized, guided by a Court official that provides with information for the visitors.

“People are curious about finding out about the work at the Supreme Court and they leave with a wider vision of the operation of the Brazilian Judiciary”, explains the head of the Visitation Department of the STF, Walber Leão. He tells that besides the high number of visitors on the weekends and holidays, there is also a demand that is still not attended. Many people seek the department even on weekdays, interested in doing the tour.

In the palace hallways, the visitor embarks on a trip of more than 200 years of history of the Brazilian judiciary system. Besides understanding the procedure of the processes and judgments, one enters in touch with pieces of art and historical objects that compose the Court’s collection. The tour starts at the Hall of Busts, that houses bronze pieces in honor of great personalities of the Brazilian History, like the jurist Rui Barbosa, the slavery abolitionist Joaquim Nabuco and the Emperor D. Pedro I.

Then, the group visits the Noble Saloon, where the foreigner authorities are received in official visits to the STF. In this part of the tour, some of the gifts offered to the Supreme Court during these visits can be seen, and also objects and furniture of the Empire period. The visitors also pass along the minister’s gallery, where they can find photos of all of the members of the Court since 1829, before arriving at the office of the President of the STF, open to public visitation since last year. A XIX century table made of peroba do campo, a Brazilian typical wood already in extinction, is the highlight of the chief office.

The Plenary Courtroom of the Supreme Court is the summit of the tour and, according to Leão, is one of the tourists's favorite spots. “The Plenary is the most impressive place, because it is the soul of the Court, where the most important decisions are made”, explains. In the end, the group visits the White Saloon, where the former presidents gallery is located. 

The head of the Visitation Department reports the admiration of the visitors for the architecture of the palace that houses the Supreme Court. They note that even though it has been projected in the 1950’s, it still remains modern for the current patterns. Nowadays, who visits the Supreme Court can also see temporary exhibitions. At the moment, there has been an exposition about the “120 years of the Internal Regulation of the Supreme Court”. 


According to the head of the Visitation Department, the area inluded in the public visitation may be expanded in the first semester of this year. The idea is to create a space for the exposition of the furniture of the private library of one of the greatest Brazilian jurists: Pontes de Miranda. The furniture was produced by the jurist himself and inspired in the furniture of the sacristy of the Cathedral of the City of Cologne, in Germany. 

It is also part of the project the installation of an illustrative panel with photos and information about the Justice Radio and the Justice TV, that provide for live transmission of the judgments of the Supreme Court. According to Leão, these vehicles of communication and the proximity between the ministers and the public in the disposition of the Plenary are the points that most attract the attention of foreign tourists that visit the STF. 

Booking a group visit

During weekdays, groups of students and professionals can participate of organized visits. According to Leão, the Supreme Court receives around 200 university students, especially from the courses of  Law and Architecture.

The students may follow up the judgments of the two Panels and of the Plenary, besides visiting some of the Court installations. The tour must be booked by the professor or the education institution, who may get in contact with the STF cerimomial by the following e-mail:

In days of plenary session, men must wear complete outfit; and women must wear dress, skirt or pants along with blazer. 


The entrance to the Brazilian Supreme Court is free and the tour is available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with regular guided walking tours departing every 30 minutes. On these days, no specific outfit is required and there is no need of booking.

Address: Praça dos Três Poderes – Edifício-Sede, Brasília/DF.

Fore more information: Telephones: +55 61 3217-1058 and +55 61 3217-4038. E-mail:


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Praça dos Três Poderes - Brasília - DF - Brazil - Zip Code 70175-900 Phone: 55.61.3217.3000