The Maracanã Stadium was originally built as the municipal stadium of Rio, meaning that any team in the city can use it, but no team can call it their home. It's the most legendary soccer stadium in Brazil, and one of the most, if not the most, famous stadiums in the world. It has hosted two world cup finals, Pope John Paul II, Queen Elizabeth II, and Pelé's 1,000th goal among other things. The stadium has been rebuilt several times. The capacity at one point was 200,000, and the capacity record for a single event was KISS, who managed to cram in 250,000 people in for a show in the 80's. Capacity of the stadium has been significantly reduced, it holds just shy of 80,000.

The name Maracanã comes from an indigenous bird that made a rattling sound when it would migrate into the area. The name came from natives of the area.

If you end up in Rio, you can get to Maracanã via the subway, there is a stop right by the stadium, so that's how we go there. You should do the tour if you can, they have bi-lingual tours in Portugues and English every two hours every day.

Here's a view of the stadium from the bridge that connects the subway to the station:

view from subway

In the lobby, they have a ton of stuff. In the interest of not turning this into a photo blog, I'll just say they have things marking the achievements of some of the best players in Brazilian soccer history, complete with castings of their feet. They have the stand Pope John Paul II used when he came through Rio, as well as the chairs that Queen Elizabeth II sat in when she made the trip decades ago. They also have quite a number of things from the Confederations Cup and last years World Cup, including the mascot:


The guided tour starts on the fifth floor with the press boxes. The first things you notice about the stadium is how wide open it is, there are no blind spots for viewers.

press box

They then take you down to the third level where they have the boxes and the celebrity seating. You cannot buy tickets for the celebrity area, you have to be invited to sit there. Generally it'll be people like heads of state, pop stars, actors, and former players that you'll see in that area. They have a nice big area behind there that's air conditioned with screens, couches, chairs, and little places to get away.

The boxes hold up to 40 people, and include seating in front of the box. I've been in a box at NRG Stadium in Houston (Texans vs Browns years ago), and the boxes here are at least three times the size. They are meant to throw a party.


On the second level, they have the places where the masses come in. They actually have a buffet that's offered as a part of your ticket price, so you actually get free food. We were advised that the area is generally not regarded as family friendly, and in rivalry games, fights can happen in the area.

On the first level is where most of the behind the scenes things are like the four dressing rooms (A-D), press rooms, etc. We went into the B & C dressing rooms. The C room included jersey's from some of the best players from last year's World Cup. I noticed they had as many German jerseys as there were goals against Brazil in that now famous game.

room C

Dressing room B had the jerseys of some of the best players from last year's Brazilian club teams.

room B

All dressing rooms have a room with turf to allow for stretching and warming up before going onto the field. From there, you can go out to the tunnel that takes you to the field. They have little speakers at the entry of the tunnel that are recordings from the last world cup that they play to give you an idea of what it's like to be a player standing in the tunnel and feeling the energy coming from the stadium.


And of course, the field. As you could guess, we were not allowed to walk on it. We could go into the benches, and they had fences up to keep us from getting on the grass.


Lastly, they have five press rooms. Several small ones like the one in the following picture. And one large one that can hold up to 500 people.

press room

It's very interesting place with a ton of history. I almost think they undersell it. They are generally the place to be for the biggest and best events in town.