Thanks to stunning stadiums in South Africa, you can now geek out on architecture as much as soccer
1. Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
With its 350-foot arch (taller than the Statue of Liberty), this structure has become a landmark in its own right. Unlike most soccer stadiums, Moses Mabhida has open sides composed of more than 1,000 columns, which allows the arena to be ventilated naturally. On non-game days, a cable car will zip fans to the top of the arch for 360-degree views of the city. They'll also have the option of jumping off (attached to a harness, of course).
2. Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Come for the soccer but stick around for the scenery. Overlooking North End Lake, this is one of the few stadiums anywhere in such a picturesque locale. At dusk, the structure turns ethereal: backlit, glowing white, its reflection shimmering in the nearby lake. The petal-shaped roof (made of 230,000 square feet of Teflon-coated membrane) does more than protect fans from sun and rain: The shape systematically directs the flow of rainwater while deflecting the strong winds common to Port Elizabeth.
3. Green Point Stadium, Cape Town
Made from woven fiberglass coated in Teflon—and with a bicycle-spoke roof comprising 9,000 panels of glass—this massive stadium has an almost translucent quality. At sunset, it takes on a reddish glow, and on cloudy days it appears gray. The architects even had hooligans in mind when designing the stadium (it was built for soccer games, after all): The entire field is surrounded by a wide moat, so don't expect to see any streakers during a penalty kick.
4. Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Given its proximity to Kruger National Park (one of the largest wild-game reserves in Africa), the newly constructed Mbombela Stadium goes all out with its safari theme. The stadium is encircled by eighteen "giraffes" (actually, they're structural supports for the roof), while its 43,500 black and white seats form a zebralike pattern around the field. To keep the sun at bay, the stadium has a massive roof (242,200 square feet) that shields spectators but lets natural light onto the field while offering views of the nearby hills.
5. Soccer City, Johannesburg
The largest stadium in sub-Saharan Africa, Soccer City will host the opening and closing World Cup matches. This 88,000-seat structure is quintessentially African in its shape, resembling a traditional cooking pot, with a round, fractured facade—a mosaic of huge earth-colored concrete panels. At night, light pierces the small windows that dot the exterior, making the stadium look part Blade Runner, part Thunderdome.
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