Top 10 European Football Stadiums

 

Stadium

You have no doubt heard the comparisons between football and organised religion. In Europe alone, hundreds of thousands of supporters congregate at stadiums every weekend to worship the greatest talents in the beautiful game, and so it stands to reason that these places of worship should be some of the most marvellous feats of architecture in the modern world.

Here are some of the most elegant, historically resonant stadiums to grace the continent.

Signal Iduna Park

Dortmund

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Capacity: 81,360
Opened: 1974

Located in Dortmund, Signal Iduna Park (formerly known as the Westfalenstadion) may not boast the sleek futuristic design of many of its peers, but it is nevertheless eye-catching with its clean, symmetrical façade and bright yellow supporting pylons. It is also the largest football stadium in Germany.

What it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for with character; Borussia Dortmund’s passionate fans make the stadium one of the most atmospheric on the continent.

Santiago Bernabéu Stadium

Madrid

Club: Real Madrid
Capacity: 81,044
Opened: 1947

The iconic home of Real Madrid has seen a few facelifts over the years as the club works tirelessly to ensure that the stadium remains one of the most prestigious in the world. It may not boast the capacity of the Camp Nou, home of Real Madrid’s arch-rivals, but what it lacks in seating it makes up for in class and atmosphere.

The Bernabéu may not have the sleek finish of many modern stadiums, but its sturdiness has a distinct aesthetic quality nonetheless. Additionally, plans are underway to renovate the stadium into a truly space-age spectacle in time for the 2020-2021 season.

Camp Nou

Barcelona

Club: FC Barcelona
Capacity: 99,354
Opened: 1957

The largest football stadium in Europe and the second largest in the world (North Korea’s Rungrado May Day Stadium takes first prize), the three-tiered Camp Nou in Barcelona is… Well, it’s rather ugly.

Only one side of the stadium is rooved, and from the outside it looks quite drab. So why did it make this list?

Well, the atmosphere when the world-class FC Barcelona are playing is unparalleled. The air is supercharged with cheering fans, and the pitch itself is absolutely immaculate. It’s tough to beat 50 years of history, and Camp Nou has refined its atmosphere over many, many years, making it a must-visit for any football fan. On game-day, of course.

Like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona are also planning on renovating their stadium in the near-future in order to modernise it, and the initial design plans are very, very fetching indeed.

Allianz Stadium

Juventus

Club: Juventus
Capacity: 41,507
Opened: 2011

Everything about Juventus’ Turin stadium oozes class, from the ergonomic stadium roof to the chequered platform surrounding it. It’s the ‘youngest’ stadium on this list and so it stands to reason it’s the most modern.

It’s also the smallest stadium on this list: it seats well less than half than Camp Nou’s almost-100,000. Given the prestige that Juventus has as a club, the smaller size certainly works against it.

Allianz Arena

Munich

Club: FC Bayern Munich
Capacity: 75,000
Opened: 2005

The vivid shell of Bayern Munich’s stadium has become a famous landmark not just in Germany but in the footballing world as a whole. The exterior is made up of 2,874 panels that all light up independently and can change colour depending on which team is hosting the game.

Previously the stadium was dually owned by both Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich, meaning that the interior is devoid of colour to alleviate bias, which lets down the marvel that is the casing of the arena. However, Bayern Munich recently acquired sole rights to the stadium and will renovate the interior to display their team colours, which will hopefully give the stadium just as much personality inside as there is outside.

Metropolitano Stadium

Metropolitano

Club: Atlético Madrid
Capacity: 67,703
Opened: 1994

It may seem prejudicial to have two stadiums from Madrid on this list, but the recent renovations of this stadium are such that it simply can’t not make this list. While it was originally built in the mid 90’s as part of the city of Madrid’s failed bid to host the World Athletics Championships, it changed hands to Atlético Madrid in 2013 and was subsequently renovated in 2017.

It may take some time for Atlético Madrid to truly make the stadium their own, but it’s certainly pretty: the base of the stadium is smooth, polished stone, and the roof resembles a canvas lid with its gentle angles and light texture. It’s just as gorgeous inside, giving spectators the opportunity to not only admire the brilliance on the pitch, but around the whole arena as well. It’s also set to host the 2018-2019 Champions League final.

San Siro Stadium

Milan

Club: A.C. Milan; Internazionale
Capacity: 80,018
Opened: 1926

The San Siro is one of the oldest stadiums in Europe, and the oldest on this list. Hosting both A.C. Milan’s and Internazionale’s home games, the stadium sees a fair amount of action.

Aesthetically, it’s held up rather well too: it’s not modern by any means, but there is a timeless charm about the spiralling support columns and the industrial roof supports. It’s not beautiful, but its robustness is certainly eye-catching.

The air in the stadium on game-day is electric – the atmosphere is so intense that you can even get a sense of it just from looking at pictures. There is history and prestige here, and the hordes of supporters that flock here know it.

Stade Vélodrome

Marseille

Club: Olympique de Marseille
Capacity: 67,394
Opened: 1937

Having recently been renovated in 2014, the Marseille stadium can be described as a perfect blend of the Allianz Arena and the Metropolitano Stadium. It has the pristine, flowing roof of the Metropolitano and can put on striking lightshows to rival the Allianz Arena. A band around the base of the stadium can light up in various colours, and one side of this band even acts as a projector screen, making this one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world.

It’s just as elegant inside, with the curving roof leaving an imprint on the sky. Marseille’s supporters are some of the most passionate in the world, ensuring that this stadium is not just a dazzling spectacle on the surface, but full of character as well.

Stadio Olimpico

Stadio olimpico

Club: A.S. Roma; S.S. Lazio
Capacity: 70,634
Opened: 1937

There’s a squat simplicity about Rome’s largest stadium; it’s certainly modern and there is a definite flourish to it, but it doesn’t possess the sleekness of many other contemporary arenas. This works in its favour, however, as it is truly reminiscent of a colosseum. Where better to have a modern colosseum than the birthplace of gladiators?

Inside, the atmosphere can be just as electric as if the teams going head to head were truly battling to the death. Like the San Siro, it hosts the home games of two teams, and so sees double the action of most stadiums. While it may not boast the historical significance of many of Rome’s other landmarks, it’s just as much a part of the landscape as the Trevi Fountain or St. Peter’s Basilica.

Wembley Stadium

Wembley

Club: National
Capacity: 90,000
Opened: 2007

Of course, the ‘home of football’ just had to make the list. With the second largest capacity in Europe, the new Wembley Stadium, which plays host to the England national team’s home games (as well as Tottenham Hotspur’s until their new stadium is complete in September 2018), is one layered in prestige. It sits on the same site as the old Wembley stadium and so carries with it the weight of history while possessing the additional flair of a world-class modern sports ground.

The stadium represents all that is good about the beautiful game: class, flair and tradition mingle to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience.

 

While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, these were just a few of the stadiums we found most striking. If you’re planning a visit to one of them, just beware – a hefty tithe is often required. Ticket prices can be downright hellish.

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