Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro is of the most iconic soccer temples in the world. It was built for the World Cup of 1950, and fully renovated for the World Cup 2014. The main entrance with the statue of Bellini is where panoramic city tours stop for a quick photo. But, if you are interested, you can visit the stadium itself on guided visits offered daily! And, if you are lucky, even enjoy a match in person.
Practical Facts - Plan your visit
The renovated stadium was open for visits again on mid-October. The one-hour tours happen on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. When there are matches, tours end 4 hours prior to the event. Tickets are for sale at Gate 2, and priced R$30 each (subject to change). From Tuesdays to Sundays only.
Getting there is quiet easy. You take the subway to Maracanã Station, and it is a 10 minute walk. Here are the complete directions. Or share a cab, if you have company. Guides are bilingual, and you can choose the hours.
The experience includes a visit to the Press Tribune, the VIP Tribune, the boxes and bleachers. The emotional part starts with a visit to the locker rooms, with the T-shirts of the players who won the Federation Cup in 2013. Videos with memorable goals are displayed. And finally you go up the same ramp that players use to access the soccer field! Here are some images of the tour.
More about the Maracanã Stadium
The name Maracanã is a term in the native Brazilian Tupi-Guarani language. It means something like a sound similar to a maraca. Yes, the rattlers people use to do Zumba Fitness workouts. And there's the the maracanã-guaçu, a garrulous bird of he parrot family. Before the stadium was built, they used to come ftom the North of Brazil to this spot of Tijuca in loud flocks.
Maracanã opened doors in June, just in time for the World Soccer Cup 1950. The last match had a record of almost 200 thousand people. The country stopped to watch Brazil play against Uruguay. We lost, the score was 2 x 1.
Maracanã is where soccer legend Pelé scored his 1,000th goal. Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Kiss, Tina Turner and the Rolling Stones have performed here. It ist is now a very comfortable, world-class stadium.
Just for the record, the official name is Estádio Mário Rodrigues Filho. Right next to it there is the smaller Stadium of Maracanãzinho, opened in 1954. This multi-use baby brother that today has a capacity of a bit more than 10,000. Volleyball, basketball and tennis are only some of the Championships that took place here.
Even though the stadium opened in 1950. the full construction of the original project only ended in 1965. It underwent a number of renovations since then. The latest one was to prepare Maracanã for the World Soccer Cup of 2014.
A number of improvements were made to bring accommodations and facilities up to FIFA standards. The capacity was reduced to around 73 thousand. The "Geral", an area where one could watch the game standing for a lower price, was discountinued. A new dome protects spectators from the elements.
Tickets to the World Cup 2014 are only available through FIFA, or included in travel packages with air tickets and lodging. According to feedback we get it is already very difficult to find a room at a traditional hotel of flat.
Useful links and other resources
We are not alone in the universe, and as soccer is the national sport there are lots of excellent references if you want to explore in more detail. Here are some places where you can find solid information, suggestions are welcome.
Maracanã Stadium on youtube.com
Selection of soccer webclips at Maracana Stadium by www.ipanema.com