5 years ago - Julie D.
It is a common cliché about the Portuguese that they are ardent supporters of football, but it could well be that behind this cliché hides a certain truth... That's why a visit to the Estadio da Luz is essential , even if you are not a fervent admirer of the round ball! Indeed, the S.L. Benfica stadium in Lisbon is one of the highlights of Portuguese culture, just like the National Museum of Azulejos.
No need to explain to football buffs the interest of the visit of the "Cathedral", another name of the stadium of the Benfica club. As for the others, several reasons can convince them to venture into the district of Luz. Above all, to visit the Estadio da Luz is to discover the legend of one of the most beloved soccer clubs in the world, during a well-made visit, which will also convince the reluctant.
The "Sport Lisboa e Benfica" would have no less than fourteen million fans worldwide, and in 2015 would have the second largest number of active members in the world (225,000 according to FIFA, behind Bayern Munich). In 2006, it held first place, according to the Guinness book of records. If we believe the numbers, it is the beloved club of 47% of Portuguese, more than five million people!
S.L. Benfica is, with the Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Porto, one of the "big three" clubs of the Portuguese Primeira Liga Championship: "Os Três Grandes". These three giants of Portuguese football each have their animal mascot, which also gives its name to the players: eagle for S.L. Benfica, lion for Sporting, and dragon for FC Porto.
The three clubs compete in highly anticipated matches that bring crowds together. The two historical rivals, S.L. Benfica and Sporting C.., compete each year for the "Lisbon Derby", also known as the "Eternal Derby". As for the Benfica - FC Porto match, is called "O Clássico".
The rivalry with the Sporting C.P. reposes first on the number of matches won, the two clubs being touch-key in the rankings. But it was poisoned by low shots in which SL Benfica did not always have the good role, as the time when the Eagles "grabbed" the player Eusébio from the Lions of Sporting, then freshly landed in Portuguese East Africa (who was not yet Mozambique)...
The "Stadium of Light", also nicknamed "the Cathedral", should take its name from the parish of Luz in which it is installed, in the district of Benfica. But the purists argue over the origin of the sobriquet: the old stadium was called "Estado do Carnide" until 1958, when the lighting devices were installed. It is at this moment that they changed its name to become "Estadio da Luz".
The current Estadio da Luz, built to host some matches of Euro 2004, opened in October 2003. It is the largest stadium in Portugal and one of the largest in Europe, with a capacity of more than 64,000 people. It notably hosted the final Euro 2004, July 4th (Portugal 0 - 1 Greece), and the final of the Champions League in May 2014 (Real Madrid 4 - 1 Atletico Madrid).
The former Estadio da Luz, which operated from 1954 to 2003, was in the same location before it was demolished. It was inaugurated on November 1, 1954 by a meeting of the sworn enemies: S.L. Benfica and FC Porto - who won the match 3 to 1.
It is easy to visit the Estadio da Luz; a combined ticket also gives access to the Cosme Damião Museum. Guided tours start every twenty minutes, and last between 45 minutes and 1 hour. The stadium is open daily between 10 am and 5 pm, except on December 25 and January 1 (the stadium closes at 2 pm on December 24 and 31). Good news, the visit (in Portuguese or English), exciting, will also interest those who do not really like soccer. So do not be remorseful to go with family or group.
The guide will introduce you to the visitor's changing rooms, the terraces, the lawn, the press room, but also the famous eagles, emblems of the club. These mascots fly over the stadium on match days, with club-colored ribbons on their legs. A camera on the back, the eagles give an impressive view of the crowd in the stands, before landing in the center of the field to the applause of the spectators.
It is of course possible to attend a match at Estadio da Luz. Tickets can be purchased directly on the club's website or at different ticket counters for the next match. We have the choice between 4 stands and 5 levels of stands. For the schedule of matches, see here.
Estadio da Luz / Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica - Museu Cosme Damião - Av. Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, 1500-313 Lisboa - metro "Linha Azul", station Colégio-Militar / Luz or Alto-dos-Moinhos - combined ticket stadium and museum, € 17,5, stadium only € 12,5, museum only € 10.
The emblem of S.L. Benfica brings together several symbols that represent the history of the club and its values. In the center, a soccer ball (obvious!), Crossed with a ribbon that bears the initials of the club: S.L.B., Sport Lisboa e Benfica.
S.L. Benfica is the result of the merging of two clubs in 1908, Sport Lisboa (created in 1904) and Grupo Sport Benfica (created in 1906). The shield is a legacy of Sport Lisboa, while the bike wheel comes from Grupo Sport Benfica: like many sports clubs at the time, the G.S.B. grouped several sports, including cycling.
Above the red and white shield, an eagle, symbol of nobility and independence, and the motto of the club, "E Pluribus Unum": "out of many, one." This motto was for a long time that of the United States, before being replaced by "In God We Trust". It highlights the team spirit: everyone leaves their ego and individualism in the cloakroom (evil spirits will say it's not easy for some footballers ...), and becomes one with his teammates . A nice coat of arms that has gone through the decades, for a club in mind unchanged since its inception.
The anthem celebrates the "club lutador", a fighters club, "without rival / in Portugal", and its red poppy jerseys. The song recalls that "being a benfiquista" is not just about being a football fan, it goes far beyond that! Composed by Paulino Gomes Junior, it was sung for the first time on April 16, 1953 by the tenor Luís Piçarra during a "sarau", event intended to raise funds to build the Estadio da Luz.
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira rightly deserves the name of legend. He began to test ball in a subsidiary of the sport, before joining the SL Benfica in a scenario worthy of a spy movie ... SL Benfica would indeed have found a way to convince the mother of Eusebio, then that he was already promised for the sport. Eusebio then traveled to Lisbon under an assumed name so as not to arouse suspicion!
He played under the colors of SL Benfica from the early 1960s until the mid-1970s, in a brilliant career with a long life: in those years, SL Benfica was eleven times champion of Portugal, and it was thanks to Eusebio that the club came in 3rd place of the 1966 World Cup (top scorer, with 9 goals). He also received the Golden Ball in 1965.
He is one of the few scorers to ever score a goal against Dynamo's legendary goalkeeper Lev Yachine. Yachine then warmly closes the hand of the one who has just pierced his defense and they will remain friends for life. And when the death of Yachine is announced in 1990, just before a game of Benfica Meteor Stadium, the cameras turn to the Portuguese delegation: Eusebio cries hot tears.
When Eusebio dies in 2014 at the age of 76, Portugal decrees three days of national mourning. The body of the great footballer is touring the Estadio da Luz, according to his wish, under the screaming eyes of tears of Portuguese fans come to pay a last tribute to "the Black Panther". The Estadio da Luz is "his" stadium, as evidenced by his statue at the entrance.
Mile Svilar, the goalkeeper of S.L. Benfica, an 18-year-old Belgian, has recently made a name for himself... for a good and a bad reason! On 17 October 2017, he became the youngest goalkeeper to play in the Champions League at 18 years and a month: "to well-born souls, the value does not wait for the number of years". But in the same match between S.L. Benfica and Manchester United, he also... scored a goal against his own side, stepping back into the cage with the ball after a free kick. Oops. He thus precipitated the defeat of his club, which had to concede the victory (0-1). He apologized to the fans, and was inconsolable at the end of the match ... Was it the pressure to play a big game against Manchester United, at Old Trafford moreover?