The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid

Category: Madrid

As a tourist visiting Madrid, there is certainly no shortage of things to do or places to see, but one of the sites you simply must check out while visiting this historic city is the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, home to the Real Madrid football (soccer) club.  Football is one of, if not the favorite pastime of Madrileños (citizens of Madrid), and nowhere in the city—or country, for that matter—is this more evident than at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.  Built in 1947, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu has been drawing fans for over 65 years, and its team is one of the most recognized and successful clubs of all time. The stadium has a total capacity of 85,454, but even with this awesome size the stadium regularly sells out for important matches.

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu:  History, Description and Ticket Information

Prior to 1924, in the early days of Real Madrid, the club played its home games at Campo De O’Donnell before moving to the more expansive Campo de Chamartin to accommodate more fans.  This new arrangement would last until 1943, when then club-president Santiago Bernabeu decided that Real Madrid, growing rapidly in popularity, had once again outgrown its home and needed a new modern stadium in which to house the club’s growing fan base.  As a result of this decision, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was born.

Workers first broke ground for the new stadium in 1945, beginning a two-year construction project on the same site as the Campo de Chamartin.  The stadium finally opened on December 14, 1947 to the delight of thousands of excited supporters, and Real Madrid christened the new facility that night by beating the Portuguese championship team OS Belenenses 3-1.

The original name of the stadium was Nuevo Estadio Chamartin, but was later changed to Estadio Santiago Bernabeu—after the club president.  The stadium originally consisted of two uncovered tiers with a total capacity of 75,000 spectators, but when a third tier was added along the long sides of the stadium in 1954, the capacity increased to approximately 125,000.  From that time until the late 1970s, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu hosted a number of important matches, perhaps the most significant being the semifinal match of the 1964 Euro Championships—a match won by Spain 2-1 over the Soviet union.

[pic2]The years took their toll on the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, so much so that in the late 1970s plans were suggested for building a new stadium in the north of Madrid.  These plans were put off, however, primarily because the city was vying to host matches during the 1982 World Cup, and the decision was made to renovate Estadio Santiago Bernabeu rather than begin a new construction project.  This renovation consisted of a roof built over the two-tiered stands and seats added to half the stadium, thus reducing the capacity to roughly 98,000.  The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu saw plenty of action during the 1982 World Cup, hosting three matches in the second round of group play and the World Cup final, a match won by Italy over West Germany.

The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu underwent an extensive redevelopment program in 1992, one that expanded the third tier throughout the stadium, replaced all bleacher-type benches with modern and more comfortable seating and created several corporate facilities—facilities that were further refurbished in 2001 and 2006.

Over the years, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu has seen its share of exciting action, hosting four European Cup and Champion League Finals, the first of which saw Real Madrid defeat Fiorentina 2-0 in 1957.  The facility continues to be a big draw to this day, and with the success of Spanish soccer at an all-time high it seems it will continue to do so for many years to come.

If you plan to catch a match while visiting Madrid, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu is located in the central part of the city on the Paseo de la Castellana, one of Madrid’s principal avenues. The stadium lies about 4 kilometers north of the Plaza de Cibeles, where the Paseo de la Castellana originates. It is a similar distance from Puerta del Sol, one of Madrid’s main squares.  Seats can be bought on-site, online (realmadrid.com) or by phone and range from €30.00 to €95.00 in the goal and corner sections of the stadium to €55.00 to €175.00 along the long sides of the field.