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Official Review by Rik Sharma, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Real Madrid claim they are the biggest team in soccer history. Some would disagree, though their impressive trophy haul speaks for itself. They certainly have a suitable stadium for a "world's greatest" side.
The club’s home inaugurated in December 1947, with a match against Portuguese champions OS Belenenses, which they won 3-1. Although it was initially named the Nuevo Estadio Chamartin, after replacing the Campo de Chamartin, it took on former club president Santiago Bernabeu's name a few years after it opened.
Ahead of the 1982 World Cup in Spain it was renovated, with a roof being built over two parts, and then redeveloped again in 1994, to make it an all-seater stadium. In 2006 further works were completed, to ensure all stands were covered by a roof.
The stadium hosted the World Cup final in 1982, in which Italy beat West Germany 3-1. They have also hosted four Champions League finals, most recently in 2010.
There are current plans to upgrade the stadium further, though it doesn't really need much done to it - it's a category four UEFA venue (the top grade) and feels quite modern inside. The sight lines to the pitch are good from almost everywhere in the stadium.
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There are often quite long queues for what is fairly average stadium fare, at least when it comes to Spanish grounds.
Most popular seem to be the pipa seeds, which are salted sunflower seeds still in their shells, that fans enjoy eating at games in this country. There is the option of various bocadillos - baguettes - with the usual fillings, from ham to Spanish tortilla. There are also doughnuts, crisps and other standard snack options like chocolate.
The usual array of fizzy drinks and water is available, though beer is not served inside the stadium before and during the game, as per the law in Spain.
For something more substantial at the ground you'd be better off going to stadium restaurant Puerta 57, which can seat 350 diners. Spanish classics, stews, tapas and more are available, though as you would expect, they are above-average price wise.
Being a large stadium, the Santiago Bernabeu is already atmospheric. However, depending on how the team performs, that could be a good or bad thing for Real Madrid.
The pitch is bright and green, one of the finest in the country, always kept in pristine condition. Behind one corner of the stadium you can see the KPMG tower rising up, which provides an interesting addition to the backdrop. There are banners hung up around the stadium and it's an interesting ground to look at. The stadium itself is large and each corner on the outside is rounded, which gives it a unique quality.
Before the game the Madrid anthem is played, with fans screaming along. The line is "Hala Madrid y nada mas" - or "Go Madrid, and nothing more."
All seats should have good sight lines to the pitch, although sitting in the Zona de Lateral on hot days in the afternoon might mean you get a bit of a sun tan during the summer. Sometimes it can also be difficult to see the pitch because of the strong light, particularly for 4pm kickoffs.
The stadium is in the north of Madrid, along an impressive road called the Castellana. Although this area is largely full of businesses, there are also plenty of bars and restaurants for supporters to head to, along with a huge department store, for all your purchasing needs.
The further south you go from the stadium, the closer you get to the centre of Madrid, and the options to eat and drink increase. There are fast food options as well as more classic restaurants, within walking distance of the stadium. There is a Starbucks and a New York Burger both within easy walking distance. There's also a pub called The Irish Rover, which is excellent for watching sports in. So if there's another game before or after the Real Madrid match, it's the place to go - and it has WiFi.
The aforementioned shopping centre, El Corte Ingles, is nearby, and within five miles you can access the greater part of Madrid's attractions. From the famous art museums like the Sofia Reina and the Prado, to the beautiful royal palace and Retiro Park.
Staying anywhere in the centre of Madrid will mean it's not too hard to reach the Santiago Bernabeu. If you get a place near Plaza Sol, you can easily take the train one stop to Nuevos Ministerios, from where you can walk to the stadium.
Real Madrid fans can be very loud, but don't always support their team the way the players would like. if things are going wrong, they will whistle their own men.
The stadium is usually full, although it may not seem like it until a few moments before kickoff. There are normally very few spare seats at a Real Madrid game, unless it's raining, which does affect attendance.
The ultras have been kicked out from their old spot behind one goal, and now there is a special group of seemingly club-approved supporters who sit at the top of one stand, who provide most of the atmosphere. They wear white shirts and usually start the songs and chants. A lot of tourists often visit, so the atmosphere is quite mixed throughout the stadium.
The stadium is very easy to find and reach. It's not too far from the centre of town, so it's almost ideal.
Walking up from train stop Nuevos Ministerios is the most enjoyable option, but you can also get the metro. There is a stop right outside the Santiago Bernabeu and that is handy, as long as you don't mind a bit of a squeeze into the carriage with the other fans heading to the game. You can also reach it easily by bus.
As a classic stadium, it is definitely worth visiting once, if not more times.
Ticket costs are fairly high, although cheaper for some of the Copa del Rey games, but you would expect nothing less considering you are watching some of the world's biggest stars in action, from Cristiano Ronaldo to Gareth Bale, via James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema.
The club offers stadium tours for €19 including visits to the pitch, the presidential box, the dugouts and technical area, the players' tunnel, the dressing rooms, the press room and the official store.
Real Madrid are a historic club and they have a historic stadium to match. Any self-respecting soccer fan would do well to watch at least one clash at the Santiago Bernabéu.
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.
Member Review by Arron Duckling on Feb 02, 2015
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.
Calle de Orense, 2
Madrid, Spain 28020
+34 917 70 11 58
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