- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - With famous beaches and world-renowned attractions such as the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf mountain, Rio de Janeiro has plenty to see even without the World Cup.

The Maracana Stadium, which will host the final on July 13, went through its third renovation - and biggest ever- to be ready for last year’s Confederations Cup. It was once one of the world’s largest stadiums, accommodating crowds of 200,000. It remains one of the city’s top tourist attractions.

The Maracana will host seven matches. The first will be between Argentina and Bosnia on June 15, followed by: Spain vs. Chile on June 18; Belgium vs. Russia on June 22; and Ecuador vs. France on June 25.

It was built for the 1950 World Cup and was the scene of the deciding game - won 2-1 by Uruguay. The maximum capacity has been cut to 77,000, but that will be reduced further to 73,500 for the World Cup.

The official name of the stadium is Estadio Journalista Mario Filho, named for a well-known journalist of the time.

Rio’s southern zone is prosperous and famous for Ipanema and Copacabana beach. But other parts of the city - particularly the north - are less desirable with slums scattered across hillsides.

Tourists should be careful about petty and violent crime.

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