Revealed! The top 25 football stadiums in Europe

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first_img 14. Celtic Park, Glasgow – The largest football stadium in Scotland, with a capacity of 60,411, Celtic Park was transformed in the 1990s from an oval ground with vast terracing to the all-seater stadium it is today. Only the Main Stand remains from the old design, and it is dwarfed by the new stands which form a continuous loop on three sides of the stadium. But this oddity gives the ground a certain charm, as well as a link to the club’s historic past. Overall, Celtic did a great job of modernising their stadium, especially considering the North Stand is squeezed into a tight space, with a cemetery behind. Celtic Park has certainly risen to the occasion on some memorable European nights since. 15. Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – Opened in 2001 and currently better known by its sponsored name (Veltins-Arena), Schalke’s new home was, unlike Arsenal’s, a vast improvement on their old place, the Parkstadion, which was a hideous concrete bowl. By contrast, the Arena AufSchalke is a more intimate affair, despite boasting a capacity of 62,271. And look, it’s got terracing! Yes, brand new German stadiums were built with safe standing, which makes it even more appealing. And then there is the retractable roof and pitch, which can slide outside in just four hours, to allow the grass to grow in more natural conditions and prevent it from being damaged when concerts are held inside the stadium. 25 25 25 25 10. Old Trafford, Manchester – The biggest club ground in English football, Old Trafford has, unlike most British stadiums, developed over the years with a coherent plan. While most English football grounds were built with four different, unrelated plans on each side of the pitch, by the early 1990s Old Trafford – originally constructed in 1909 – was completed as an all-enclosed stadium with an all-seater capacity of 44,000. By 2007, further development had taken the capacity to over 76,000, although this has dropped slightly since. Only the South Stand remains single-tiered, due to restrictions caused by an adjacent train line. Sir Bobby Charlton called it ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ and it’s definitely one of European football’s most iconic venues. 9. Ibrox, Rangers – Originally a vast concrete bowl, Ibrox once held over 118,000 fans, but was redeveloped completely in the late 1970s, following a disaster in 1971 in which 66 fans lost their lives. Only the old, Archibald Leitch-designed main stand remained (complete with familiar criss-cross balcony) and as a listed structure, it was cleverly modernised with a new roof and extra tier in the late 1990s. The end result is a 51,000-capacity football ground that combines modernity with tradition and atmosphere. 18. Goodison Park, Liverpool – Some people may be surprised to see Goodison included on this list, but while it is undoubtedly dated, that is also its strength. Modern football fans may demand plush seats, but with brand new stadiums often come a complete lack of soul. Goodison could never be accused of lacking character, nestled snugly among streets of terraced houses and with a church between the corner of the main stand and Gwladys Street end. Two sides of the stadium were designed by the famed football ground architect Archibald Leitch – a man responsible for many of the most famous grounds in British football – identifiable by his trademark balcony trusses. Everton are understandably keen to move with the times and modernise their home ground, but for the diehard Bluenoses, the prospect of moving to a brand new stadium further out of town – leaving the area to that lot from across Stanley Park – fills them with dread. 25 21. St James’ Park, Newcastle – Newcastle United’s home ground changed almost beyond recognition between 1993 and 2000, going from a ground with ageing terraces and a capacity just above 30,000, to a modern 52,000-all seater stadium. That development was extremely lop-sided, with the Main Stand and Leazes End towering above the Gallowgate End and, particularly, the East Stand, behind which stands a row of Georgian terraced houses that restrict any expansion to the stadium on that side. 19. Sukru Saracoglu, Istanbul – Originally opened in 1908, Fenerbahce’s stadium has undergone extensive rebuilding along similar lines to Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, with each stand completely replaced in a renovation that finished in 2006. The result is a modern, but traditional-looking ground that holds just over 50,000 fans. It’s effectively a new stadium, but one that boasts much more history and character than the new home of their fierce rivals, Galatasaray, who moved into the Turk Telekom arena in 2011. Unlike the latter stadium and Istanbul’s other large ground, the unloved Ataturk (scene of the 2005 Champions League final), the Sukru Saracoglu is located in the beating heart of Istanbul, rather than stuck on the outskirts. 8. Mestalla, Valencia – Opened in 1923, the Mestalla now seats 55,000 fans in its distinctively steeply banked stands. Valencia began construction on a new stadium in 2007, but due to financial issues it has yet to be completed. When you look at the current ground, which is an awesome spectacle when full, you have to wonder why they bothered. And look, it’s got a bat on the seats! 25 25 25 23. Estadio da Luz, Lisbon – Home to Benfica, the new Estadio da Luz – aka the Stadium of Light – holds 65,647 and was built in time to host the Euro 2004 final. Home to Benfica, it also hosted the 2014 Champions League final. While impressive and modern, it doesn’t have the aura that surrounded the club’s old Stadium of Light, which once held around 135,000 fans and was the largest stadium in Europe in the 1980s and early ’90s. It also looks rather similar to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. 25. Stamford Bridge, London – ‘to find out which stadiums make up the top 25, click the arrow above, right’ – Built in 1876 as an athletics stadium, Chelsea were founded in 1905 to give the ground a tenant when it was converted to a football stadium. In the 1990s the Bridge underwent a complete makeover, being converted from a vast concrete bowl with terracing, to the compact 41,798-capacity all-seater it is today. Situated slap bang in the middle of a prized area of west London, Stamford Bridge is hemmed in by two train lines and a main road, but plans are afoot to convert it into an ultra-modern, 60,000-capacity arena. 17. Olympiastadion, Berlin – Home to Hertha Berlin, this is the only stadium on our list with an athletics track, because athletics tracks are never good news for football grounds. But this stadium has a memorable appearance, featuring an open-end that dramatically frames a bell tower in the park outside the stadium, as well as marking where the 1936 Olympic torch was positioned, and housing a tunnel that formed a dramatic entrance for marathon competitors at the Games. The 1936 Olympics were tainted by their Nazi associations, but fortunately this stadium stands as a monument to much more. After being renovated and given a new roof, it hosted the 2006 World Cup final and was the venue for Barcelona’s 2015 Champions League triumph. Oh, and Usain Bolt set the world 100m and 200m sprint records on the track, which is distinctively blue, so we can just about forgive its presence. 16. Emirates Stadium, London – Frankly, we preferred Arsenal’s old Highbury Stadium for character, but the Emirates Stadium helped to set the standard for new arenas in English football. Opened in 2006, it holds 60,000 fans, all in comparative luxury with padded seating. Its middle, corporate tier is famed for filling up late and emptying early, as pampered Gooners indulge in slap up meals before dashing off back to the home counties. But hats off to Arsenal for managing to move around the corner, building a massive new stadium in a heavily-built up part of North London, just a stone’s throw from their old ground. Rather that than moving miles away to, say, Plumstead. 4. Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid – With 85,454 seats, the Bernabeu is slightly smaller in capacity than the Camp Nou, but at present it’s much more pleasant on the eye. Extensively renovated for the 1982 World Cup, like the Camp Nou over the years it has grown ever higher, with more tiers added. Unlike Barca’s stadium, the Bernabeu benefits from a roof on all sides and, like the club’s name, feels that little bit more regal. 12. Allianz Arena, Munich – The Allianz Arena is a funny one. Arguably the most iconic of the 21st century’s new European football stadiums, it literally stands as a beacon – its innovative stadium facade lighting up at night to make it visible for miles. But then it is miles away from anywhere, barely in Munich at all. Bayern moved to the Allianz Arena from the city’s Olympic Stadium, which suffered from the running track problem, and there is no doubt their new ground boasts far better sight lines. But while the outside is lit up, inside every seat is grey, making for a rather uniform, dull picture. In fact, take away the light show and it’s just another out of town arena. Impressive, but not enough to make its way into the top 10. 5. Camp Nou, Barcelona – The largest football stadium in Europe, Camp Nou is currently home to the finest football team on the continent. Built in 1957, it expanded for the 1982 World Cup, eventually becoming a three-tiered arena at one point capable of holding 122,000 fans, until standing places were removed. Its present capacity is 99,354 all-seated, but this is planned to increase to over 100,000 as the club intend to modernise the stadium completely, addressing the lack of roof on three sides of the stadium and, frankly, unattractive external appearance. For all its reputation, outside the Camp Nou resembles an ugly concrete car park, which seems hardly befitting of the club’s glamorous reputation. 25 3. Wembley, London – Second only to the Camp Nou in terms of European football stadium capacity, 90,000-seater Wembley is the largest of Europe’s new wave of modern grounds. The old Wembley was possibly the most iconic stadium in the world, but had seen better days when it was closed in 2000. While the new Wembley – which opened in 2007 – may not yet be able to boast the same amount of memorable moments, it is undeniably a magnificent arena. There’s not a bad seat in the house and the arch makes it visible for miles around London. Perhaps the only gripes are that the location, on the site of the old stadium, is not the most convenient part of London to get to, while the corporate seating is a reminder of modern football’s tendency to put cash before atmosphere. Still, it’s already hosted two excellent Champions League finals, in 2011 and 2013, and will stage the Euro 2020 final. Arsenal travel to Barcelona for the second leg of their last 16 Champions League tie to face probably the best team in world football.But the Gunners will also be visiting one of the most iconic football stadiums in Europe.The Camp Nou currently boasts the biggest capacity of any football ground in the continent and is planned to undergo a renovation that will increase its size still further.But is it Europe’s number one football stadium?Above, we count down our selection of the top 25 football stadiums in Europe.Let us know which one is your favourite by leaving a comment below. 13. Juventus Stadium, Turin – When Italy hosted the 1990 World Cup it was lauded at the time for its array of modern stadiums, including the brand new Stadio delle Alpi in Turin, into which Juventus moved. But despite playing host to some of the finest Juventus teams ever, the delle Alpi was a horrendous arena, especially thanks to an athletics track that was never used for a major meet, but served to separate football fans from the pitch. So, in 2009 the 69,000-capacity stadium was demolished and on the same site the Juventus Stadium was built. Having learned the lessons of the delle Alpi, Juve’s new ground is a much more intimate affair, holding just 41,475 fans, and is all the better for it. The stadium hosted the 2014 Europa League final and has been a roaring success for the Old Lady of Italian football. 25 25 25 20. Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon – With a capacity of 59,186, Lyon’s impressive new stadium was only opened in January 2016 and will host matches at Euro 2016 in the summer, including a semi-final. It looks impressive inside and out. 25 25 25 25 25 25 11. Mungersdorfer, Cologne – Originally built in 1923, Cologne’s stadium used to be blighted by that old athletics track problem, but that was cured when it was renovated for the 2006 World Cup. In its place was constructed a fantastic football ground, with towering stands putting 50,000 fans close to the pitch. And it’s got standing sections, too. Sehr gut. 22. Parken, Copenhagen – Constructed in the early 1990s on the site of the historic Idrætsparken stadium, which itself was built in 1911, the Parken is home to FC Copenhagen and the Danish national team. With its traditional four separate stands, it’s what you might call a ‘proper football ground’, although the new ‘Superbest stand’ – built in 2007 to replace the ‘D end’, which was originally the old stadium’s main stand – has spoilt the Parken somewhat, reducing the capacity from just over 42,000 to 38,000, in order to incorporate corporate boxes. Arsenal fans have mixed memories of Parken, having seen their club win the 1994 Cup Winners’ Cup final there, but lose the 2000 UEFA Cup showpiece. 25 6. Stade Velodrome, Marseille – Marseille’s fans have a reputation for being among the most vociferous in Europe and now they have a stadium to match their reputation. Renovated for Euro 2016, it now holds 67,000 and features a truly stunning roof. 25 25 2. San Siro, Milan – Along with the Bernabeu and Camp Nou, Milan’s San Siro is a stadium that seems to evoke everything that is grand about European football in the past half century or so. Like a lot of Italian stadiums, there is no doubt that the San Siro is ageing and lacks many of the comforts that come as standard with brand new stadiums. Yet still it remains a marvel. From outside, the distinctive ramps and columns, along with that girder roof (added along with the third tier for the 1990 World Cup), make it look like something that’s just landed from outer space. Inside, its imposing, steep stands – holding over 81,000 fans – are breathtaking. The San Siro hosted the 1990 World Cup opening ceremony and has staged three European Cup finals, with the 2016 Champions League final to come. 25 25 7. Anfield, Liverpool – When Anfield opened in 1884 it was home to Everton, but for most of its history it’s been Liverpool FC’s stadium. The club spent years looking for a new location to build a brand new stadium, but the current owners have decided to renovate the Reds’ one and only home. While it may not be as large a stadium as Old Trafford, partly due to it being hemmed in by terraced houses and roads, on big occasions Anfield retains an intimacy that is the envy of most of Europe. This reputation stems largely from the Kop, arguably the most famous ‘end’ in world football. Formerly a huge terrace, all-seater regulations led to the old Kop’s demolition in 1994 and replacement with a new structure. Fortunately, Liverpool rebuilt the Kop as a single-tier stand, holding 12,390 fans but looking all the more imposing as one, unified mass of fans. The huge new main stand will be completed later this year, taking capacity from just under 45,000 to 54,000. 25 24. Stade Louis II, Monaco – This stadium makes our top 25 thanks to its stunning location and ingenuity. With a capacity of just 18,523, it’s not relatively compact, and it’s not exactly a cauldron as tenant club Monaco don’t draw particularly passionate crowds, but to fit a ground into this location makes for a spectacular stadium. So little room was there to build it in 1985, that most of the facilities are located underneath the stadium, including the car park. 25 1. Westfalenstadion, Dortmund – In top spot, it’s the home of Borussia Dortmund. Built for the 1974 World Cup, up until the late 1990s it was a relatively unremarkable stadium, with a capacity that hovered around the 50,000 mark. Then, following Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League success, the Westfalenstadion began a process of expansion that led to its capacity increasing to 81,359, including the development of the South Stand terrace. Known as the ‘Yellow Wall’, this bank is the largest terrace in European football, holding 24,454 fans. The standing places can be converted to seats for international and European matches, reducing the stadium’s overall capacity to 65,829. Dortmund are now able to boast a superb stadium that marries modernity with fan values and, from being an unsung stadium outside of the Ruhr, the Westfalenstadion is now celebrated around the world as a symbol of the passion football inspires among fans.last_img read more