Skip to content

MEO Arena

The biggest events room in the country

In the heart of “Parque das Nações” and 10 minutes from Lisbon International Airport you can find this multipurpose facility with a set of rooms prepared to receive the most diverse events.

Plan of the Atlântico Pavilion, indicating the location of the MEO Arena Hall, the Business Center, the Tejo Hall and the Arena Atlântico Offices. Plan of the Atlântico Pavilion, indicating the location of the MEO Arena Hall, the Business Center, the Tejo Hall and the Arena Atlântico Offices.



The idea of building the Atlântico Pavilion dates back to the first debates about the EXPO’ 98 Urbanisation Plan.

On the contrary to other European cities, Lisbon didn’t have a multi-purpose hall to receive shows, congresses and large scale sports events.

The existing halls, both in the capital as in other parts of the country either had limited places available – up to 4 thousand – or were hard to adapt to unconventional events, as competitive sports in a covered enclosure.

Besides this, they didn’t have the technological apparatus demanded for modern TV coverage or by big musical or theatrical shows.

There was a vacuum among the halls until four thousand seats, as the Coliseum or Pavilions built for other purposes and adapted, as well as the big open enclosures.

This circumstance left the country outside “indoor” sport championships and made it difficult to conduct big concerts in the cold and rainy seasons.

That’s why this type of equipment was chosen to be built, at the Urbanisation plan level for the EXPO’98 area.

This location had the advantage of serving not only the population of the biggest Portuguese metropolitan area but also the country, as a whole given the proximity to the Oriente Station (where the main means of transport connect) and of the main interdivs.


The Atlântico Pavilion is a unique venue.

This venue, built between 1996 and 1998, was one the Expo’98 stages at that time called Utopia Pavilion it received in the exhibition period, four months, 440 sessions of the show “Oceanos e Utopias” and nearly four million spectators.

While in other big pavilions of the EXPO’98 (as “Portugal”, “Conhecimento dos Mares” or “Futuro”) the approach to the theme “oceans” was thought of in a historical, scientific and artistic perspective, in this case the magical, dreamy and symbolic side to it was privileged.

Thus, during 132 exhibition days, the Utopia Pavilion was a space open to imagination, reflecting the fears, myths and legends that, throughout history, were associated to the oceans.

Parades of Figures as Daedalus, the first man-bird, gods of Olympus, mythical heroes as Hercules in a succession of colourful pictures: the birth of Man and the Gods, Big Bang, the Deluge, Atlantis, the Discoveries, The conquer of Space, etc., were seen.

A show, repeated four times a day, by François Confino and Philipe Genty and produced by the company Razon. Designed through the conjugation of classical theatrical effects with modern multimedia technologies.

The aesthetics, versatility, flexibility and its architecture with plain and innovative shapes are the perfect frame for events wanted with success.

Made up of three integrated areas, all the spaces are easily adapted to the needs and characteristics of each event. The Atlântico room with an arena of 5 200 m2 and the capacity for 12 500 people seated houses, with a unique versatility and absolute success, all types of events. The Tagus Room, flooded by natural light, it has 2 200 m2 prepared for all ideas. And the Business Centre with its auditorium of 100 seats and 11 integrated room is ready to receive events of small dimension. More recently a new ephemeral venue was created, the Arena Box, an innovative space that appears from a variation of the Atlântico Room with an area of 2 000 m2 and a capacity between 500 and 4 000 people.

Innovative Project

Projeto Inovador

For the project the Portuguese architect Regino Cruz was chosen, associated to a big international office Skidmore, Owings & Merril (SOM).

Regino Cruz is the author of several projects in Brazil and Portugal, namely institutional buildings and offices in Lisbon. He is also a co-project planner of the Vasco da Gama Tower, situated on the very north of the Parque das Nações enclosure.

SOM won its first prize in the competition for the Olympic Stadiums of Manchester and Berlin, besides accumulating projects for big Sport Pavilions in the USA (Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland or Minneapolis).

The Atlântico Pavilion configuration resembles a spaceship…but its shape is also of a horseshoe crab, species that appeared 200 million years ago

A combination of a sea animal and a spaceship, this shape deserved a structure that supported it physically and symbolically.

Thus, the idea of setting up a frame of wooden struts to support the cover as the structure of an inverted sixteenth-century ship.

In a world exhibition that evokes the seas and the Discoveries. Wood, being better than steel or concrete, is the ideal raw-material.

The internal organisation of the space was thought of according to 3 big goals:
1) Minimising the visual impact of a big dimensional construction as this;
2) Contributing to a rational use of energy and
3) Simplifying the entrance and exit of public.



As stressed in the reference Terms of the competition for the selection of planners, “the building should be projected in such a way as to have a good energetic behaviour since one of the main management costs is of energy.

To be considered is also the Global Energy Strategy and the Environment, integrated within the urban planning for the EXPO’98 area taken into practice under the valid protocol between Parque EXPO’98 SA, Centro para a Conservação de energia (Energy Conservation Centre) and the European Commission, under the coordination of Prof. Doctor Oliveira Fernandes.

The Building’s design allows to optimize its use and has ensured the Joule Financing Programme/ Thermie and SIURE applications’ success, that corresponded to outright financing around the 180 000 PTE.

Responsibility for the air conditioning project and for the energetic aspects is of Luís Malheiro da Silva – Management and Project of Special Premises.

The high levels of comfort and low energy consumption planned for the Atlântico Pavilion are connected to the way the air is inflated in the occupied area by the public: behind the seats, the low speed and the temperature very much on par with the room temperature, optimising air conditioning systems of the occupied area by the public.

The 100% use option of exterior air promotes high patterns of environmental quality: the suspended contaminating particles are dragged to the exterior, diluting the smells and odours.

In the summer, the water from the Tagus is taken for the pre-cooling of the inflated air. In winter the thermal energy of the air extraction (hotter), is taken advantage of by heat recovery systems.

From all of this there results a good energetic performance of the Pavilion. To comply with this target the use of ventilation and natural and controlled artificial lighting as well as the type of construction and exterior coatings chosen.

It is calculated that in comparison with a similar building where these strategies had not been applied, savings can be made in around 36% in Winter and 63% in Summer.



To guarantee maximum comfort inside the Pavilion with the minimum energy waste, some measures were taken:
> The building was partially implanted under ground level to take advantage of the structural thermal capacity;
> A study was carried out of the outdoor surroundings in a heat transmission perspective and polluting emission;
> Using natural ventilation and lighting, controlled between events and rehearsals;
> Use of contolled artificial lightining;
> Use of water from the Tagus for pre-cooling the air in the river treatment units;
> Inflation at seat level to concentrate the air-conditioning in the area occupied by the public;
> The admission of 100% clean air is done, with the recovery of energy;
> Replacing of the installations of cold water producing units and boilers through connection to the nets of the EXPO’98 intervention area;
> Use is made of the water pumping from the air-conditioning circuits with a variable flow;
> Using a central management system for coordination of the general functioning of the building, regarding energy management.


Member of EAA – European Association of Arenas, ICCA - International Congress and Convention Association, and ATL – “Associação de Turismo de Lisboa”(Lisbon Association of Tourism), it’s the new stage for music, sports, art and culture. It is the biggest concert hall in the country where the big events gain a new life. It’s the Arena where all will want to be.

Benefits from a privileged location on the River Tagus north bank with excellent access – highlighting the proximity to the Lisbon International airport (five minutes) – and with modern and excellent facilities, MEO Arena, is one of the most modern equipment in the world with a breathtaking design.

MEO Arena. It’s another stage!


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Event and Congress Venue

Portugal Trade Awards by Publituris @BTL 2023

Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Event and Congress Venue

Portugal Trade Awards by Publituris @BTL 2022

Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Event Venue

Prémio Publituris Portugal Trade Awards

Melhor Espaço Congressos
World Travel Leader Award


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Venue for Events 


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Events  


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best congress Venue 


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Events


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Beste Venue for Events


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Congress Venue


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Multi-Purposes


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Multi-Purpose Events


Melhor Espaço Eventos
Beste Venue for Events


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best congress Venue


Melhor Espaço Multiuso
Best Multi-Purposes Venue


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Congress


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Congress


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Congress


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Best Venue for Congress


Melhor Espaço Congressos
Sports equipment for international events




The architecture of the MEO Arena building, enhancing simplicity and cutting edge shapes, is one of the attractions in the “Parque das Nações” area. A design that simply breaths modernity, concerned at the same time with environmental issues and inspiring visitors and renowned experts from international background. Many are the symbols embedded in the design of this building, it is well-worth staying and visiting.


The MEO Arena´s aisles are filled with adrenaline, the magical euphoria that anticipates each of its shows.
In the hustle and bustle of the shows arrangements, many memories have remained as part of MEO Arena´s own story.
In MEO Arena a dark lilac carpet which was used to cover the floor of Prince´s dressing room, can still be found. It was a demand from the superstar.
On the other hand, Marilyn Manson, the “enfant terrible”, targeted with mischievous, pervert and even devilish rumours concerning his behaviour, at the end, and off the spotlight, showed himself as a choir boy.
Bruno Mars practiced boxing in one of the technical rooms of the pavilions, while Robbie Williams picked out members of the staff to play soccer with him in “Tejo” Room.
At last Roger Waters, who used social media to complain that his picture had not been put up on the Wall of Fame. Hours later, the matter was solved.

Cost of construction

MEO Arena cost about 54.87 million Euros to build. Hundreds of workers and specialised technicians built it on a total construction area of 47,000 square metres over two years and eight months.


Limulus polyphemus, the horseshoe crab is a marine animal that evolved over 200 million years ago.
The designers of MEO Arena took inspiration from this resilient ocean traveller to come up with the venue’s hallmark shape.
The space challenges the most conservative tenets of building design; and inside this huge marine shell you’ll find the remnants of the ribbed innards of an old caravel from the sixteenth century moored in the Tagus River.
The ship’s wooden inner rib cage and keel plunge into empty space, pointing the way to future nautical exploits.

Diversity for sports events

The Arena of MEO Arena is extraordinarily versatile in recreating itself depending on the events it embraces. From the Lisbon grand prize of fencing, to the world championship of junior basketball as well as the world kickboxing championship. Not forgetting the world trial championship, the tennis masters, the European circuit for table tennis, the judo European championship and the various athletics competitions amongst many others.
As for the “Tejo” Room of reduced dimensions, a more reserved environment can be created, being a fundamental support for some sports events.


The MEO Arena building has combined refined aesthetics with the most up to date concepts for energy saving, efficiency and management for environmental quality.
The acclimatization system of the building is located in the sitting area, where air is evacuated. An important part of the building is placed below ground level, a solution that diminishes the heating impact, allowing MEO Arena facade to have a more human scale.
The Arena has been built in a way to benefit the sunny hours of the day in winter, as well as from shade hours during summer time.
The MEO Arena building achieved international recognition under construction phase and when its application was accepted by the thermie Europe 2000. This classification is attributed to the most environmentally friendly European buildings when it concerns to energy efficiency.

Fire protection

The materials used in the construction of MEO Arena provide a high degree of protection against fire and earthquake shock.
After 60 minutes of burning under fire, a 150 by 60 cm beam shrinks to 142 by 51 cm. However, while fired steel loses its temper and softens, and concrete dilates and cracks, wood, albeit blackened, maintains its strength.
According to architect Regino Cruz, "it’ll be really hard to make a structure like this collapse".


Flexibility is the key word for MEO Arena since its very beginning. Much beyond the meaning itself, it has become a daily code of practice.
The MEO Arena directors aim to stretch the range of services provided, enlarging its acknowledged high degree level of adaptation to new challenges.


Glulam is a type of composite wooden material (MEO Arena used Nordic pine in its construction owing to that material’s high strength) which is formed with wooden blades glued to each other in a manner that orients the blades along a single axis. The process produces wood that is stronger than the original raw material.
Glulam is one of the most eco-friendly and flexible construction materials used in the building and construction industry. The raw material is grown from forests subject to sustainable environmental management. The selected trees do not consume much energy during growth and the resultant material is easily bio-degradable.
Albeit being initially developed for the furniture making industry, Glulam has now been in use by the building and construction industry since 1907. Owing to its excellent weight to strength ratio, it was also used for building torpedo launcher vessels and war planes during World War II. Production of this composite wood product became feasible following the introduction of advances techniques in synthetic glue technology.

High Tech

We bring state-of-the-art technology to the service of knowledge and creativity. The employment of computer software to simulate the engineering behaviour of wood allowed designers to achieve outstanding results when designing MEO Arena.
It enabled the creation of a much lighter structure than would have been the case if it had been built in concrete, while enhancing its fire and earthquake resistance features. And that’s not to mention the lower cost of construction and the excellent acoustics and thermal characteristics obtained.


The arenas and the exhibition rooms are lit with natural, diffuse illumination. Natural illumination is also a feature of the peripheral lobby ring, the entrance area, and the public areas giving access to the main Halls.


Juvenile crowds have already shaken themselves by the sound of their favourite bands. They have contributed in enhancing MEO Arena´s personality. Since its birth, MEO Arena has always established itself as a space that gathers diverse generations of public, parents and their kids, grandparents and their grandchildren, all sharing unforgettable experiences.

Knoffler (Mark), Kyllie Minogue, korn

All the great artists who have stepped on the stage at the MEO Arena, have contributed to complete the Altice´s alphabet letters, being this considered as our “business card”.


Located between the Myriad Hotel, the Portuguese Pavilion as well as the “Oriente” station, MEO Arena is placed within an outdoor area of rare beauty and life quality.
Benefiting from an extent net of accesses, nearby the most modern transportation terminal in Lisbon and yet close to “ Centro Vasco Da Gama “ the main shopping mall in “Parque das Nações”, definitely a privileged location.


In the name prevails all the capabilities and capacities of the MEO Arena building.
MEO Arena is prepared to provide a large range of services for a set of diverse events, such as: sports events, shows, concerts, dance, congresses, meetings, fairs, exhibitions, etc….
Sophisticated technical material and highly qualified technicians, guarantee all the operations in the assembling of any type of show, seminar, or corporate event, assuring all needed logistic support, from security, cleanliness, check controls as well as well-trained ushers to assist the general public.


This was the theme of the 1998 Expo, the world exhibition that has changed for ever the western area of Lisbon, making it lively and active, never before imagined.


Did you know that if every concrete foundation pile used to lay the foundations of Pavilhão Atlântico was piled atop each other to form a single column, that column would stretch over five kilometres in height?
Or that if the 5,600 cubic metres of wooden planks used to build the roof’s supporting rib cage were laid side by side they would form a catwalk long enough to reach from Lisbon to Paris?
Each of the roof support girders measures 150 metres. And the length of the largest span of the cage’s "side ribs" is 114 metres long.
11,600 screws and bolts, 250,000 drilled holes, 180 tons of glue, and 680 tons of steel went into the construction of this structure.
Walking the 1,200 metres of the maintenance catwalks around the structure is a real challenge. Those passages are 1.10 metres wide and stand at a height of 35 metres above the ground.
Looking down is not permitted. Built who wants to look down, anyway, when you can look at a magnificent roof that looks like the interior rib cage of a sixteenth century caravel?


Quality is a daily demand at MEO Arena. It is also a basic assumption in the “Parque das Nações” area. At MEO Arena, quality prevails in all details as well as in all levels of our activities, from consumption reduction, to waste treatment, giving also constant support to the local community.


Regino Cruz and SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), one of the largest and most prestigious international architectural consulting firms, were the designers of MEO Arena.
Regino was born in Lisbon, in 1954. His training was conducted both in Portugal, at the Fine Arts College of Lisbon, and in Brazil, where he completed his studies in Rio de Janeiro.
Between 1978 and 1990 he commuted between Portugal and Brazil, working in both countries.
Regino Cruz Arquitectos e Consultores was then launched in 1990.


A spaceship ready to set about on the conquest of new galaxies, a sixteenth-century caravel, or a marine animal, MEO Arena synthesises myths, utopias, and sheer newness.
Each corner has some history to tell, and it reminds us of a time when a small army of "Lilliputian" look-alike workers patiently went about building this gigantic structure.


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is an American consortium with an outstanding curriculum which includes such feats as having been awarded the tenders for the designs of the Olympic stadiums of Manchester and Berlin, and a number of projects for major sports arenas and stadiums in the United States.
SOM was also jointly responsible for the design of the Vasco da Gama Tower, sited at the northern end of Parque das Nações.
SOM’s vast experience and technical know-how enabled them to tackle the complexity of designing a project of the physical and structural magnitude of MEO Arena.


The MEO Arena is extraordinarily versatile and its spaces moulds themselves to the requirements of each particular event, whether it needs to stimulate absolute concentration, as was the case at the Lisbon Fencing Tournament of the World Fencing Championship calendar, or to give vent to the ebullience of a World Junior Indoor Basketball Tournament or the second edition of the World Trial Kickboxing Championship.
The smaller arena, Tejo Hall, provides a more secluded atmosphere that could be of great relevance for certain types of indoor sports events.
MEO Arena brings together all the necessary features to host shows, and events of that nature. Its 2000 calendar of events included the long-awaited edition of a Tennis Masters Tournament, which took place by end of that year.


There is a strong relationship between the river and MEO Arena.
The location of MEO Arena, a ship effect, is the first visible sign from this liaison.
But there are more, the water from the Tagus river is used directly for the cooling system of the air at MEO Arena.
Between MEO Arena and the Tagus river, there is an unbreakable bond that has contributed to this building an international acclaim. Consequently, the MEO Arena is considered an example to be followed as an environmentally friendly building.


MEO Arena has one of the most advanced ticketing systems (sales of tickets): Blueticket assures the sale and the control of access of one of the largest and best events in the country, in and out of MEO Arena.


"We then coursed into the creation of a utopian space where we would talk about the ocean as a feature of our history and of the men who often evidenced the thousand and one half-hidden facets of the human condition when at sea: valour, a thirst for adventure, fearlessness, ambition, and superstition. We would talk about the ocean as a vehicle of the imagination and as a fantasy that artists and storytellers can create. And of men of every continent joining in their fascination with the sea…"
These were the words of Wanda Caio, one of the people responsible for coordinating the "Oceans and Utopia" show.
This emblematic show, presented during the EXPO '98 event, employed a variety of special and theatrical arty effects. For the five months of the Exposition, "Oceans and Utopia” was seen by 3,286,520 people.


It is difficult to slot MEO Arena in the corset-like narrow range of a traditional glossary. But even the letter “X” has something to add about the nature of this venue.
MEO Arena never fails to surprise whoever visits it for the first time, either because of the sheer magnificence of its interiors or owing to the marvellous shows visitors unfailingly get to watch.
Even the exterior setting catches by surprise whoever walks around the mysterious shape of this building.

Xutos e Pontapés

The story of this mythical Portuguese band runs across invariably the aisles, the stage, the dressing rooms and the memories of the whole entire MEO Arena team, to whom “ Xutos and Pontapés have always been close friends.


Thousands of youngsters have already vibrated to the beat of their favourite bands here. And young people have been the main contributors to MEO Arena’s increasingly assertive character.
From inception, MEO Arena has been a venue that is capable of attracting several generations; parents and children and grandparents and grandchildren are equally capable of enjoying themselves together here.
And this is a feature that is here to stay. The type of events being hosted at Pavilhão Atlântico and the people who attend them are writing its history – the history of a venue that is open to the city, the country, and the whole world.


The gods looked like they were out of their minds… It was divine creative madness. After fire came water, the deluge, terrifying and grotesque as it was. Man braving the oceans in search of the utopia of a new continent never before reached… Atlantis. The myths, the legends. It was all there, on stage, at the "Oceans and Utopia" show, one of the most successful events Expo’ 98, in terms of visitor volumes. "Utopia is a brave ship indeed", Massimo Cacciari, O Arquipélago. A most inspiring motto for Arena Atlântico, S.A..