As a football fan, you have to agree that the World Cup is the greatest international tournament in the world. For that very reason I was so excited to be visiting the Uruguayan capital city of Montevideo back in 2010. It had been a dream of mine to actually step foot inside Estadio Centenario. The place where “world football” all began, well at least as far as I’m concerned. Here is a report on my visit to the birthplace of the World Cup: Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay.
As a backpacking Northern Irishman, I ended up prolonging my stay in Montevideo, studying Spanish in the downtown area near Plaza Independencia and living with a local family in the cool Parque Rodo neighbourhood. I made it to a few live football matches at this famous stadium and even wrote about how I longed for the chance to be there supporting Northern Ireland. It’s now February 2014 and it has just been announced that Northern Ireland will play Uruguay here in a warm up friendly match for the World Cup in the very stadium where the World Cup began!! I sadly can’t go – but I’m sure there will be fellow Northern Ireland fans there and so I don’t want you guys to miss out on seeing the football museum inside the stadium or the sights of the city so I’ll have a few more posts in retrospect on Montevideo and Uruguay in the next few months.
I’ll cover my trips to watch Penarol and Nacional (two of the biggest teams in Uruguay) in other posts, so for this article, I’ll focus on the actual Museo de Futbol – the Football Museum inside the stadium. Here’s an overview for you all, hope you enjoy my report!
How to get to the Museo de Futbol, Estadio Centenario, Uruguay
OK for me as a budget traveller it has to be either bus or walk to get to Estadio Centenario – you’ll remember how much I hate taxis – don’t do it please! I lived nearby for a while so I normally just walked it – 20 minute short and easy walk. I lived at Parque Rodo so I’d walk up to Tres Cruces and follow the Avenida Italia down to the ground. Estadio Centenario is in an area called Parque Batlle. Locals know the place inside out anyway – just mention Estadio Centenario to anyone and they know it! It’s a football mad city and country. Have a look on this map and you’ll see it’s not hard to find:
As for buses, I also got the number 64 from Avenida 18 de Julio, near Plaza Independencia, and there are even more local routes that drop you at the stadium, or even at nearby Tres Cruces, from there you can walk down. On matchdays the bus routes are obviously more busy.
Opening Hours of the Museo de Futbol, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
You will definitely need to check closer to the time you go, as the opening hours do change. On Saturdays and Sundays and on matchdays, it’s normally closed, so it’s a Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm opening time normally. Just make sure you double check once you get to Montevideo.
How much does entrance to the museum cost?
OK so I was there in 2010 and it cost me 80 Uruguayan Pesos, so about $3.80 US Dollars back then. These days it’s rumoured to cost 100 Uruguayan Pesos, which is now about $4.5 US Dollars. Prices will vary of course, but don’t worry too much. As a football crazy fan, the entrance fee was simply not on my mind. My budget backpacking brain does go out the window when it comes to unforgettable experiences every now and then!
As a bonus, your entry ticket is done as a mock of an actual match ticket for a match in the 1930 World Cup so a souvenir for sure! One for the collection!
Inside the Museo Del Futbol, Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
Once inside, make sure you take the time to walk around at your leisure and enjoy the place. There are signed shirts, trophys, old shirts, old programmes, paintings, posters, stamps etc. A feast for a football fan and photos are permitted throughout. I got snap happy – here are some photos from inside the museum…with short captions.
Inside the Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
Inside the museum, you walk up the steps and out into the stadium itself, which I did of course. It was nice to experience the stadium empty and full to contrast the atmosphere change. These are my photos from the stadium tour itself, from the stands looking all around.
There is also a 1930 World Cup winning marker in the stand, and that famous tower that has been around forever and is almost the emblem of the stadium – an easy way to recognise the stadium from walking in the streets nearby.
Is the Original Jules Rimet Trophy here?
No, it was sadly stolen and melted in Brazil after Brazil clinched the title for the third time in 1970. They won it in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and got to keep the original Jules Rimet Trophy. Incidentally, Uruguay won the World Cup in 1930 and 1950, but never made it the hat-trick to clinch the trophy, so they’re back to zero again in their attempts to claim the current trophy. Admittedly in 2010 they were one of the best teams and could perhaps have won it on a better day. To make up for that, there are TWO replica Jules Rimet trophies – in separate cabinets – one for 1930 and one for 1950.
Outside the Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
If you are an even tighter cheapskate traveller than me and you don’t want to pay the entrance fee to the museum or go to a match, you can walk around the outside of the stadium and will find some monuments and plaques, here are a few of them. This is obviously free to do…
The 4 Plaques outside the stadium celebrating the 4 World Champions wins (2 World Cups and 2 Olympics):
Uruguay have been deliberately biased in their display of World Champions, as they claim to be World Champions FOUR times, having won the Olympic Football event twice in the 1920s before the official World Cup began. They have separate plaques for each and they also include these wins on their football monument alongside their genuine World Cup wins of 1930 and 1950.
What’s even more biased and quite funny is that after 1990 (when West Germany won the World Cup), the Uruguyans refuse to list any more World Champions. The reason for this is that Brazil won the World Cup in 1994 and the Uruguayans are still bitter about that and the fact that Brazil have won the World Cup 5 times now, which, even counting Uruguay’s 4 Olympics wins is 1 ahead of it. Italy are also on 4 victories, but this is also not documented on the blank tiles of this trophy. I guess if Uruguay win in 2014, they will add that though!
What teams play here at Estadio Centenario?
The Uruguay National Team, and club teams Penarol and Nacional. I made it to a few Penarol matches and a Nacional Match.
A few photos from matchdays supporting Penarol
My first match in Uruguay was watching Penarol so I made them my team. I bought a hat and went three times, and also went to see their rival team Nacional fail to win the title!! Here are some photos from watching Penarol, a full report on one of the games is here:
A few photos from the matchday I watched Nacional v. Las Ramplas:
I also managed to catch the epic final day of the season clash between Nacional and Las Ramplas. Nacional needed to win and hope that Defensor Sporting lost in order to win the league. Defensor were losing 1-0 at one point, but won 3-1 anyway.
Details of the Museo de Futbol, Eastadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay
Dirección: Estadio Centenario, tribuna Olímpica Av. Ricaldoni.
Tel: (0598 2) 480.12.59
Horarios: De lunes a viernes de 10 a 17 horas.
Here are some of my videos from my trips to Estadio Centenario, Montevideo, Uruguay: