Why You Should Visit It
Maracanã Stadium is one of the most important of its kind in the world and is already home to two World Cups, in 1950 and 2014. The postcard location is home to Brazilian soccer. Its field has seen unbelievable plays from stars of every corner of the country, and an archive with relics donated by these great players is one of the most famous attractions in the stadium.
A lot is talked about the stadium, but Maracanã is a sports complex that houses Julio Delamare Aquatics Centre, the Athletics Stadium Célio de Berros (deactivated for the 2014 World Cup renewal), and Maracanãzinho, a sports field for activities like volleyball and basketball.
A Zico statue is one of the most valuable relics in Maracanã Stadium. The midfielder is the top scorer of all time in the stadium with 333 goals in 435 matches. The ball, the goalposts, and the net of Pelé’s 1000th goal are also part of the collection available for visitors. The athlete of the century reached that milestone at 11:11pm on November 19,1969, in a match between Santos and Vasco that took place right there and was won by Santos, his team, 2-1. Another treasure is The Walk of Fame, opened in 2000. It gathers the footprints of Garrincha, Zagallo, and other outstanding names in soccer history.
The Maracanã Stadium field is 75 meters wide and 110 meters long, covering an area of almost 200 thousand square meters. Recent renewals reduced its capacity from 200,000 viewers to 78,000. An interesting tidbit shows very well what it means to have the public there: 3 tons of trash is collected in each game that takes place in Maracanã.
Unforgettable concerts are also part of Maracanã’s history. It was there where Frank Sinatra lived one of the most thrilling moments of his career, performing for over 150,000 people in January 1980. Another star who made his name at the Marcanã Stadium was Paul McCartney. A single concert by the English musician for 185,000 fans in April 1990 at Maracanã ended up registered in the Book of Records. It’s the largest single-artist stadium concert ever registered.
Past History of Maracanã Stadium
The word Maracanã means “similar to a shaker” in Tupi-Guarani. It was used to name the bird maracanã-guaçu, which inhabits the North region of the country and is also common at Floresta da Tijuca. The presence of this species in the area was the cause of naming Rio Maracanã that way, which flows from Alto da Boa Vista to the surroundings of the stadium. The same place was the home of, in the first half of the 19th century, the Itamaraty Hippodrome, where horse races were watched by over 4,000 people.
The first deals for the creation of a stadium in the area happened in 1945. The spot would be used to host the 1950 World Cup. City Hall started the work on August 2, 1948. The Maracanã stadium cost, if we updated it to how much it would be worth today (2015), was over 200,000,000 reais. The opening had a game between Rio and São Paulo players on June 17, 1950. Didi (Waldir Pereira) scored the first goal of the stadium, but the São Paulo team won 3-1.
People who see Maracanã Stadium today can’t imagine how many disputes were involved in its creation. Then a Councillor, Carlos Lacerda supported in 1947 that the stadium should be built in Jacarepagua so as to not disturb the city center. The mayor Ângelo Mendes de Moraes was against it and, with support from the journalist Mário Filho, ended up having the last word. A tribute was paid to the reporter in 1968, when the City Council in Rio renamed the city’s Municipal Stadium Mário Filho Stadium. This has been Maracanã’s official name since then.
Decades after its construction, Maracanã Stadium is still going through controversial moments in its history, now due to renewals. In 2007, the stadium was renovated for the Pan American Games despite the population’s disbelief. The renovation cost millions, but was then wasted because of the preparation of the stadium for the 2014 World Cup, when almost everything was redone once more at the expense of billions. Still under a lot of controversy, some works are now underway for the adaptation of Maracanãzinho and the Julio Delamare Acquatics Centre for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Aside from disputes extraneous to the field, some important matches are part of Maracanã’s history. One of the most famous is the 2-1 Uruguay win over Brazil on June 16,1950, at the World Cup Final. Pelé’s first game for the National Team happened there in 1957. Around 200,000 fans were there on August 31, 1969, when Brazil beat Paraguay 1-0. This was an audience record never beaten again.
Maracanã Stadium Today
An area of 50,000 square meters around Maracanã Stadium was transformed into a park for the 2014 World Cup. The changes transformed it into a meeting point of cyclists and other people who are into physical activities, protesters, and a new place for concerts. This new environment lives among past memories like Bellini’s Statue, first shown in 1960. The area hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games. Volleyball, athletics, and other sports competitions will probably happen at the arena by the Park, the Maracanãzinho, which still answers the calling to host important sports competitions.
Tourists who wish to visit the stadium on game days should be careful to some extent. It is recommended to wear light clothes on hot days and raincoats when needed. Another useful tip is to buy food and drink tickets before matches, thus avoiding queues during halftime. Weapons, cups, glasses, explosives, animals, sound devices, and flag poles that can be used as weapons are forbidden in Maracanã Stadium.
For those interested in viewing the stadium’s, tickets can be purchased online, on site, or at Espaço Ticket Center Rio, in Copacabana. The costs may vary between 25 and 50 reais. You can also opt to visit Maracanã without a guide for a lower price that varies between 24 and 30 reais. The full information regarding stadium visitations and its tickets are available at this website.
Getting to Maracanã Stadium is easy. The Maracanã and São Cristóvão train and subway stations serve people who must get to the West and East sides, respectively. Here are some tips on how to move around the city with our Public Transportation Guide.
It’s also easy to get there by car via expressways and, in this case, coming from the coastal South side (where most hotels and tourist attractions are). The most recommended course is throught the Rebouças tunnel. The place has a parking lot with capacity for 500 cars that’s open every day from 7am to 11pm and charges 20 reais for private cars for a 3-hour period. It’s important to note that, on game days, the place closes for four hours before the match starts. Maracanã’s address is Presidente Castelo Branco avenue, no number.
What Nobody Talks About the Maracanã Stadium
- Saftey is a very sensitive matter regarding Maracanã Stadium and its surroundings, whether it’s because of the poor communities around it or because it’s a place well known for attracting tourists; soccer fans on game days, and Rio citizens in general, who like to work out in its surroundings. That’s why we highly recommend you avoid visiting the areas near the expressways that lead to Maracanã (Radial Oeste and Presidente Castelo Branco), and it’s especially inadvisable to visit Maracanã’s neighborhood at night.
- The subway exit that leads to the Stadium is usually monitored by police officers, although it’s recommended to reach the stadium only by the pedestrian separation structures if you’re using the subway. Never cross the highways. The dangers in the area are not only due to the street population that go there, who often commit small crimes such as thefts and pickpocketing, which are directed towards stadium visitors and University students nearby (UERJ). That’s why you should not openly show your possessions on the streets. The ideal scenario is to always be in groups and, if possible, with locals.
- Even though Maracanã Stadium is loved by Rio citizens, many of its neighbors complain about the inconveniences caused when events and matches take place. Many streets are closed, litter and crowds take over the sidewalks, and people who live there, in general, are stuck inside their homes. Traffic and pedestrian flow become so difficult that it’s better to take the subway and cross the area towards Tijuca, Vila Isabel, and their surroundings.
- Floods in the Maracanã area and Praça da Bandeira are very common when strong rain falls there. The droughts are caused by the accumulation of water from the rain and channeled rivers that flow near the area, like the Maracanã River, which flows from Tijuca Forest and ends at Guanabara Bay.
- Praça da Bandeira is the correct course for people who come by car from the South side coast to the Maracanã Stadium. Even though the Government has put up a huge effort and many resources to solve the problem, like creating big underground water reservoirs for water from rain and overflowing rivers, the so called “piscinões”, at the moment, Rio citizens are still worried about the area when strong rain falls.
Credits for the used images in this Maracanã Stadium article: Alexandre Macieira, Copa2014.gov.br, Jcsalmon, Rio.rj.gov.br