The Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is one of the most impressive sporting venues that I have visited. It is a cathedral to the beautiful game celebrating one of the worlds greatest clubs Real Madrid. The stadium capacity is 85,454.
The stadium is named after former club player, manager and president Santiago Bernabéu Yeste. It was previously known as the Nuevo Estadio Chamartin until 1955 when it was renamed the Bernabéu. It was during his time as club president that he is remembered for. It was the time that Real Madrid became kings of European football by winning the first five European Cups. In total Real Madrid have been European champions on nine occasions and World club champions on three occasions. The trophies and replicas are displayed in the club museum.
Real Madrid were considered to be the club of General Franco. This maybe down to Bernabéu fighting for the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In truth, Franco was no fan of football but used the success of Real Madrid to promote is vision of Spain at a time when the country was ignored by the rest of Europe.
The reason to visit the Bernabéu is to take part in stadium tour. I was there just after Spain victory in Euro 2012 so the mood was good.
You can only appreciate the stadium when is it empty. You start the tour by the grandstands and there you can marvel at the stature of it.
Next you enter the museum. This is where you celebrate the rich history of Real Madrid. It is a celebration of all the club successes. Be it the trophies they have won or the individual honours achieved by the players. Each European success is celebrated individually. I would have liked to have seen more about the early history though I did enjoy the section which listed all the players who have played for the club.
From the museum you go to the President’s Box. From there you head to the holy grail, pitchside. In particular the coaches technical area. Standing there I had visions of all the players that have trod on the hallowed ground and dreamt of giving orders from the sidelines.
From the pitch I went to the away changing rooms. Nothing special there, indeed it is a little basic. Giving your opponents comfort is not part of the equation. Finally you end up in the press room. Befitting the size of Real Madrid it is a large room that has room for many journalists. I imagine that José Mourinho enjoys playing to that crowd.
The stadium tour ends in the club shop which is a celebration to all things Real Madrid, Spain and Adidas. Lots of Euros change hands at this point.
Until the next post, stay safe, stay healthy and keep smiling.