By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracanã stadium celebrated 65 years of existence on Tuesday, June 16th. Cariocas who want to visit the stadium, officially named Mario Filho, will receive a fifty percent discount on the guided tour until Sunday, June 21st.
On the birthday itself, the first 500 visitors, as well as people with their birthday on June 16th and everyone named Mario Filho, received a free guided tour of the stadium including birthday cake, a “Parabéns” (Happy Birthday) song and a raffle of shirts, tickets to games and souvenirs.
The anniversary is also celebrated on social media with people asked to post a video of up to fifteen seconds of their iconic moments at the Maracanã under the hashtag #maraca65anos. The videos will be displayed on TV and the screens in the stadium during the month. Pictures on Twitter and Instagram can also be posted with the same hashtag.
The Maracanã guided tour takes place every day between 9AM and 5PM, except on game days, when tours end two hours before the kickoff. The tour takes approximately an hour and takes visitors to backstage areas of the stadium, such as the press tribune, players’ changing rooms, honor tribune, seats in the boxes and also exhibits parts of the history of the stadium and football (soccer) in Brazil in general.
The Maracanã stadium was officially opened on June 16, 1950 after two years of construction. It was built for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. It registered a record attendance with the final at this World Cup between Uruguay and Brazil with 199,854 spectators, making it the world’s largest stadium by capacity at that time.
The Maracanã was renovated several times since then. Most noticeably in 2010-13 for the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup, where capacity was reduced to 78,838 spectators, however still making it the largest stadium in Brazil and the second in South America after Estadio Monumental in Peru.
In 2016, the Maracanã will be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.