Estádio Municipal de Braga (English: Braga Municipal Stadium) is a football stadium in Braga, Portugal, with an all-seated capacity of 30,154, built in 2003 as the new home for local club SC Braga, and as a 2004 UEFA European Football Championship venue. Its architect was Portuguese Eduardo Souto de Moura.
SC Braga pays a monthly rent of 500 € for the use of the stadium. In July 2007, SC Braga announced a three-year sponsorship deal with French insurance company AXA which included the change of the name by which the club refers to the stadium, to Estádio AXA (AXA Stadium). However, the municipality, as landlord, clarified that the stadium had not been officially renamed as this was a deal involving its tenant only. The stadium is also known as The Quarry.
The stadium was carved off a quarry (Monte Castro) that overlooks the city of Braga. Stands run only along both sides of the pitch. Behind the goal at one end are the rock walls of the quarry and at the other is an open view over the city sprawling in the distance. Each stand is covered with a canopy-style roof, and both are connected to each other across the pitch by dozens of steel strings, a design inspired by ancient South American Inca bridges.
Once inside the stadium, moving from one stand to the other is done through a 5,000 sq.m plaza under the pitch. This plaza held the Minho Campus Party, a LAN party, in 2004.
The enormous rock moving process contributed heavily to the final €83.1 million cost, more than any other of the ten new stadiums built for Euro 2004, except for the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon (capacity: 65,647) and Estádio do Dragão in Porto (capacity: 52,002).
The stadium is often considered one the most original and beautiful stadiums in the world. The Financial Times, in an article about Britain’s stadiums, refers to AXA as one of the four examples of “beautiful grounds”. It states that: “There has been nothing in this country to match the architectural delight of Eduardo Souto de Moura’s stadium for Braga in Portugal, a breathtaking arena carved into the side of a rock face on the site of a former quarry”