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Official Review by Botjan Cernenek, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Camp Nou has been the home to FC Barcelona ever since 1957 when the stadium opened after three years of construction. Through more than half a century of history the stadium has undergone several changes, especially in the seating capacity department which varied from the low end of 90,000 to as high 121,749 during the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Since then, the capacity has been reduced and it currently stands at 98,787, which still makes it the largest football stadium in Europe.
From a modernization standpoint, the Camp Nou is well behind the times as newer stadiums offer much more to their fans. That has prompted a lot of talk about a new stadium that would house the pride of Catalonia. But instead, the current expectation is for the Camp Nou to undergo a major renovation project slated to begin in 2017.
Regardless, the Camp Nou is still considered to be one of the greatest stadiums in the world and when full and lively it can be a true marvel to behold.
And the stadium isn't important only because of its football value, but also because it holds historic value. During the Francisco Franco era it was one of the few places where people were allowed to speak their native language, Catalan.
During its operation, the Camp Nou has not only hosted games played by FC Barcelona, but was also the venue for the World Cup, the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as home games for the Catalan national team. It has also hosted numerous concerts, including Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and U2.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Camp Nou doesn't offer much more than what you can buy at food and beverage stands at most stadiums in Europe. The vendors offer your typical fast food selections that will get you through the match, but don't expect to get something fancy in the stands.
In case you become thirsty there is a large selection of drinks available to you, but the sale of alcoholic beverages at the grounds is forbidden. The selection of alcohol-free beverages, however, is quite large and even includes alcohol-free beer. The prices of everything available aren't cheap though and don't be surprised if pay 5 for a single item.
Describing the atmosphere at the Camp Nou can be quite difficult as it can vary from below average to one of the best in the world. In a season like 2013-2014, where not much went in favor of Barcelona, on or off the pitch, and the club struggled to record average attendance of over 70% it comes to little surprise that the fan base rarely cheered loudly. In fact you could hear several jeers along the way.
But on the flip side you have games against "big opponents," like Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and others, that fire up the fan base and give you a feeling that these are not the same fans that visit the "other" games. The atmosphere is especially brilliant if Barcelona faces one of these teams in the Champions League.
Barcelona fans are some of the most demanding in the world so the disparity in the atmosphere depending on the results is actually quite understandable. And the fact that the stadium has no roof, apart from the main stand, can explain why the stadium can often feel so quiet as a large majority of the crowd noise travels up, away from the pitch.
The Camp Nou is located in a residential area near the University Campus. And while that could be considered near the edge of Barcelona on the southwest side, you are no more than 30 minutes away from anywhere inside the city limits because of the excellent public transport system. So whatever you desire to visit is well within reach, even if you're on a schedule.
Most of the noteworthy sights within walking distance from the stadium are connected to the football club itself, like La Masia, but there are also several sporting venues located there that are well worth the visit.
If you're already at the Camp Nou make use of the public transport system to visit other areas of the city. If you don't mind short walks, the metro probably offers the best bang for buck, but the taxis and the buses aren't pricey either. Some of the must see locations in Barcelona include: "La Rambla," the most popular tourist street, Sagrada Familia, a large catholic church, Montjuïc, a hill in Barcelona, and several others.
The Barcelona fans can act very hot and cold, depending on the opponent and the club's performance on a given night. One day they can cheer their lungs out, creating a hell-like atmosphere but three days later they will just sit there and watch the game.
But that is just the state of the Barça fans who are far different from Spanish faithful, like Atletico Madrid or Real Betis fans, who don't stop cheering and singing even when their team is losing. Though when Barcelona are playing great football against a top opponent the Camp Nou is arguably the best place to be in La Liga.
The Camp Nou is accessible through various different ways, and all of them are great. Metro, bus, or taxi bring you to the stadium itself or very near to it. Whichever way you choose to go, you are surely going to be satisfied. When going to the Camp Nou on a match day you can expect the bus and metro stops to be crowded, but the sheer frequency of trips makes sure that you won't wait long, if you wait at all.
Visiting the Camp Nou is surely one of the most memorable football experiences one can venture upon. But your wallet will also feel a blow because of it. How big the blow will be though depends largely on you. If you watch a game against a "lesser" opponent, something the club classifies as a class D game, in the highest tier you can get a ticket for about 20. But if you go to a Champions League game or visit an El Clasico in the main stand you'll pay upwards of 200, even more if you buy those tickets on the black market.
But regardless of how much you pay you will surely see a spectacle on the pitch. Despite the recent drop in form you can bet your last euro that you will see a great game that will feature brilliant passing and more than likely a couple of goals.
I've visited the Camp Nou several times now and watched games from very different angles, and I have to say that there is no bad seat in the building. So no matter how much you pay for the ticket, you can rest assured you will have a great view of the action.
Before you enter the very ground on which the Camp Nou stands you will find an FC Botiga Megastore, and believe me, the Megastore part is no exaggeration. Want anything Barça related, they have it; entire kits, pens, mugs, even grass from before the new grass that was put in recently.
The most impressive "extra" is located one entrance before the FC Botiga, and that is the Museum which houses every trophy won in the club's history, from football and basketball to roller hockey. The museum also displays several other historically significant pieces, like boots from players as well as Ballon d'Ors. It really is a must see location whether you're a fan of FC Barcelona or not. The entry is not free, but it won't set you back much. On days when matches are not played you can also access the press boxes and visit the locker room. You even get to walk down the tunnel from the locker rooms down to the pitch.
Member Review by Sebastian
The Camp Nou, is one of the oldest and finest stadiums in Europe, and quite fittingly home to one of the finest football (soccer) teams in the world, FC Barcelona. The Catalan (sorry, Catalan folks don't consider themselves Spanish) club has always been one of Europe's powerhouses but their recent spike in popularity can be attributed to the success they have accumulated in the last couple of years.
If the Superbowl is the U.S. premier sports event, than the UEFA Champions League would have to be its European equivalent. In their distinguished history, FC Barcelona has won soccer's most prestigious club competition thrice, and twice in the last five years.
The stadium was built from 1954 - 1957 and has been the club's home ever since. During Francisco Franco's dictatorship, the Camp Nou was one of the few places where the Catalan population was allowed to speak their native language. It's one of the reasons why FC Barcelona adopted the slogan "mes que un club" (translation: more than a club).
It is an all-seater stadium that has a capacity for an audience of 99,354 spectators, although that figure is rarely, if ever, reached. If you are planning to go on one of your holidays in Spain, then Camp Nou should be part of your itinerary.
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