Estádio Vasco da Gama, also known as Estádio São Januário, owing to its location on a street of the same name, is the home ground of Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama. Its facade is listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage.
It is located in the Vasco da Gama neighbourhood, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on a hill near the National Observatory of Brazil. Because of its position it is often referred to as Estádio da Colina (Hill's Stadium) which in turn has given Vasco the nickname of Gigante da Colina (Hill's Giant). It is one of the few soccer specific stadiums in the world which has both team benches and coaching areas behind the goal line on the same end of the field.
The stadium had a capacity of 15,150 and it was inaugurated on April 27, 1927, with the presence of Washington Luís, Brazilian president in that time. The first event held in the stadium was a match between Vasco and Santos, which Santos won. São Januário was the biggest stadium in the New World until 1930 when Estádio Centenário of Montevideo was inaugurated for the first World Cup in 1930. It was the biggest in Brazil until 1940 when Pacaembu was built in São Paulo (Public Venue, still the biggest private venue in Brazil). It was the biggest in Rio de Janeiro when Maracanã was built for the World Cup and even today, 83 years afterwards, it still stands as the biggest private venue in the State of Rio de Janeiro.
This stadium has also historic importance, because Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas used it many times to do deliver speeches to the Brazilian people. Vargas announced the first Brazilian work laws on the tribune of São Januário. For the 2016 Olympics, the stadium will act as the venue for Rugby Sevens in its debut as an Olympic sport.
Vasco da Gama, owner of São Januário, is the only Rio de Janeiro big soccer club to have its private stadium. Other big clubs (as Flamengo, Fluminense and Botafogo) have to rent other places (Flamengo and Fluminense play at Maracanã owned by Rio de Janeiro State and Botafogo plays at Engenhão owned by Rio de Janeiro City).