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Official Review by Arron Duckling, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The prestigious home of one of football’s most well known clubs, the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu sits proudly as one of the most famous landmarks in a city steeped in history. Located in the northern district of Chamartín, the Bernabéu as it is known amongst Madridistas, has undergone a plethora of changes in its near 70 year history, yet for all the capacity upgrades and downgrades it has retained its unmistakable charm.
Due to its deserved status as one of Spain’s only four-star venues by European football governing body, UEFA, the Santiago Bernabéu has played host to some memorable events, including the 2010 UEFA Champions League final won by Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale against German powerhouse, Bayern Munich. Back in 1982, the Bernabéu also provided a fitting backdrop to the biggest match on the football calendar, the FIFA World Cup final, as a Paolo Rossi-inspired Italy defeated pre-match favourites West Germany.
On that incredible summer’s night in Madrid, the enduring image was that of Italian midfielder Marco Tardelli, who raced towards the sidelines, pumping his fists with tears in his eyes, overwhelmed by the euphoria of scoring such an important goal for his team. An iconic moment, and one that only served to enhance the Bernabéu’s reputation as one of Europe’s premier football stadiums.
Its usual tenants, Real Madrid, are the current European and World champions and are perhaps the most recognisable brand in football, led by the man voted to be the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo. The club are proud of its heritage and following this spirit, current Real Madrid president and construction magnate, Florentino Perez has committed to renovating the Bernabéu, giving it a modern facelift so to speak, to conserve this famous venue for many generations to come.
And with good reason too; there are few better venues for watching a game of football than the Santiago Bernabéu.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
While the stadium concourse is home to many food and drink counters, the choice offered is a little underwhelming given its relatively steep price. A bottle of still water will set you back €2, with prices increasing to €3.50 for a large Coca-Cola. Maybe it is to be expected in such a large venue, but service is especially slow, meaning that a half-time snack trip might leave you missing the start of the action in the second half.
If you have the time and arrive early enough, there are a multiple restaurants in the stadium itself, including the Real Café which offers a set three-course menu of gazpacho, Iberian pork in a red wine sauce and a selection of ice cream for an impressive €10,90. The only issue is that obtaining access and a table in venues like this on match day may prove difficult, if not impossible as it was for me during my most recent visit.
Like many venues, the atmosphere at the Santiago Bernabéu will vary dramatically depending on the opposition; fortunately for me, I wasn't visiting for any old match of football, I was here for the match, Real Madrid's clash with fierce rivals, FC Barcelona: El Clasico. Even as a Barça fan behind enemy lines in the small section reserved for visiting fans, you can't help but be impressed by the atmosphere on offer.
The fanatical Ultras Sur unveiled a huge mural prior to kick-off celebrating the club's recent record-breaking 10th European Cup that covered the entirety of the fondo sur, not to mention set the tone for the match ahead. All throughout the 90 minutes, you will be hard-pressed to even hear your own thoughts as the level of noise generated by the 80,000 capacity crowd, only serves to enhance the spectacle of a great game of football.
Found at the intersection between the Paseo de la Castellana and the Avenida de Concha Espina, the Santiago Bernabéu is a rarity in modern football; a stadium in the heart of the city in which it is located. As a result of its relatively central location, fans travelling to the match early will never be short of activities. For example, within walking distance is one of Madrid's largest branches of El Cortes Ingles, the famous Spanish department store, while closer to the stadium, fans can shop for jerseys and souvenirs at Real Madrid's megastore.
There are of course many restaurants around the stadium, offering fans the usual tapas y cervezas that they may crave before and after kick-off, as well as more American cuisine like hot dogs and hamburgers. However, due to their location close to the stadium, prices are a little more expensive than they are in other parts of Madrid.
The historic rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona may transcend football and sports into the world of Spanish politics, yet in spite of its reputation as something of a dangerous fixture, I found the home support to be cordial and inviting enough, even if I was effectively a representative of their arch enemy. During the match itself, some less than welcoming and often aggressive chants were directed between the two sets of supporters, yet this never evolved into outright violence, leaving me with a fond impression of my night at the Bernabéu.
Whether you are arriving by train, metro or the bus, the transport links around the Santiago Bernabéu are tremendous - as one might expect from such a famous venue. The stadium has its own dedicated stop on Line 10 of the Madrid metro system, on which other important stops such as Nuevos Ministerios - the link between the city centre and the airport - are situated.
Visitors arriving by train will do so at Nuevos Ministerios, which is just one stop away on the metro, or is within a leisurely 15 minute walk if you prefer, while fans travelling by bus can reach the stadium on routes 14, 27, 40, 43, 120, 147 and 150.
This varies hugely depending on the opposition and even the form of Real Madrid at the time of the match. If you're unlucky and want to travel to a match like El Clasico, well, you don't stand a chance of getting a ticket at face value. Even if you do manage it, prices are quite steep compared to England and Germany for example, with tickets often costing in excess of €100. If you want to visit a match against lesser opposition, tickets are much cheaper (often around €50 or €60) and are readily available through official channels.
All this being said, Real Madrid more than justify these prices when they offer you a chance to witness the best side in world football.
Real Madrid offer stadium tours, both guided and self-guided, during which you follow a route through the stadium. The route includes the dugouts, presidential box, press room, changing rooms, players' tunnel, trophy room, and ends in the club shop.
There are virtual photos offered throughout, allowing you to have your picture "taken" with your pick of the current Real Madrid squad, and with the UEFA Champions League trophy. On the tour, you will also have the opportunity to take a panoramic photo of the entire stadium from the upper tier, and a particular highlight is the trophy room, featuring some silverware that is the size of a grown man!
The stadium is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00am to 7:00pm, while opening times on Sundays and public holidays are from 10:30am to 6:30pm. This is however subject to change on match days. You can book the tour online or buy a ticket at the ground for €16.00.
A trip to the Santiago Bernabéu should feature on the bucket list of any sports fan, and if you are on a city trip to Madrid, then you simply must take the time to either catch a game, or at least take in Real Madrid's rich history with a trip to the club museum on the stadium tour. The football on offer is among the best and most exciting in the world, while the experience of visiting the Bernabéu only serves to complement that wonderfully. A must for all football fans.
Member Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard on Dec 30, 2012
This is the story of one of Europe’s finest football (soccer) stadiums, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. This stadium is the home of Real Madrid CF.
In the early years of the 20th century, Real Madrid played their home matches at Campo de O’Donnell, but in 1924, they moved to the larger Campo de Chamartín. In 1943, the Campo de Chamartin had already become too small, so club president Santiago Bernabéu decided that Real Madrid needed a new 100,000-seat stadium.
This new stadium was built at the same site of Campo de Chamartín. Construction began in 1945 and on the 14 December 1947, the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium officially opened. The stadium was initially called Nuevo Estadio Chamartín, but received the name of the club president 8 years later.
At that time, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu consisted of two uncovered tiers that could hold just over 75,000 spectators. Capacity was further increased to 125,000 in 1954. The Bernabéu Stadium was one of the playing venues of the European Championships in 1964, and hosted the final between Spain and Russia (2-1).
For the 1982 World Cup, the stadium was renovated, which included the construction of a roof that covered the three two-tiered stands and the installation of seats in half of the stadium. The capacity was reduced to 90,800 persons. Also during the 1982 World Cup, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu hosted a couple of group matches, as well as the final between Italy and Germany (3-1).
In the 1990s, there was another extensive redevelopment of the stadium, which included extending the third tier over the entire stadium and adding four access towers in each corner of the stadium. The stadium became an all-seater at this point. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu got further refurbished and upgraded between 2001 and 2006, and nowadays holds a capacity just over 85,000. Estadio Santiago Bernabéu has hosted four European Cup / Champions League finals. The last final was in 2010 when Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich (2-0).
In fact, UEFA has awarded this stadium with five-stars! This is how the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu became one of the finest football stadiums in Europe.
Member Review by Nalitzis on Apr 27, 2014
It's a must-have experience for football fans of the world but you leave the stadium craving for some passion. You really feel the effects of modern football here. No atmosphere whatsoever.
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