Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil, situated at the mouth of Guanabara Bay. It was founded in 1565 by the Portuguese. The first Europeans had entered Guanabara Bay on 1 January 1502, hence the name ‘River of January’.
It served as the capital city of Brazil until 1960 when the capital was transferred to Brasilia.
According to the latest official estimates, the population of Rio de Janeiro is 6.5 million.
The city’s exceptional urban setting including the Botanical Gardens, Corcovado Mountain with its celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer, the hills around Guanabara Bay and the extensive designed landscapes along Copacabana Bay were all named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.
Rio de Janeiro is the first city in South America to host the Olympic Games and the third in the southern hemisphere, after Melbourne 1952 and Sydney 2000.
Rio was awarded the 2016 Games at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in 2009 in Copenhagen, defeating Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago.
Maracanã & Maracanãzinho
The iconic Maracanazinho (or ‘little Maracana’) venue will host the volleyball matches of Rio 2016.
The indoor arena is located in the Maracana neighbourhood of Rio’s North Zone, right next to the legendary Maracana Stadium, which will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in addition to football matches of Rio 2016.
Inaugurated in 1954, the Maracanazinho has hosted numerous sporting events, including the 1960 FIVB Men’s and Women’s and 1990 FIVB Men’s World Championship. It was extensively remodelled for the 2007 Pan American Games.
The official capacity is 13,613, though for the Olympic Games it will be 12,000. It is officially named ‘Ginasio Gilberto Cardoso’ after a former president of the historic Flamengo club of Rio.
The neighbourhood of Marcana (‘parrot’ in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language) was reclaimed from swamps surrounding the Maracana River, which flows from the Tijuca Forest to Guanabara Bay.
The main campus of Rio de Janeiro State University is located in the Maracana neighbourhood.