Football Madness in Madrid

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You won’t believe how vibrant Madrid can become on matchdays. The city has a long football history, which spans 100 years and is largely the history of its clubs: Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid and Rayo Vallecano, founded in 1902, 1903 and 1924, respectively.

Going across the city in a slanting line from north to south, you’re bound to encounter Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium, at the heart of the Chamartín district, Atlético de Madrid’s Vicente Calderón, sitting on the bank of the river Manzanares, and Vallecas stadium, a smaller field named after the working class district it stands on.

Football and food

Madrid’s passion for football is nurtured, in more than one way, at the city’s bars and restaurants. The establishments near the stadiums are certain to become packed with fans before, during and after games. And, when the time has come for the Champions League or Europa League tournaments, foreigners who’ve come to support their teams find their way into the many downtown beer bars in Sol and Barrio de las Letras (Literary Quarter).

Don’t be surprised to come across Real Madrid players or managers dining a few tables away from you at their restaurants of choice, Asador Donostiarra and Mesón Txistu. And, since there’s room for everyone in Madrid, communities of supporters of almost all the Spanish League teams are to be found in the city.


Team fans have managed to turn local monuments into traditional symbols of their clubs. If the team win a title, qualify for a championship or just give them any reason to celebrate, Real Madrid’s fans will gather at the Cibeles Fountain, while those of Atlético de Madrid will rally at the Neptuno Fountain and Rayo Vallecano fans – Rayistas will come together round the fountain outside the building of the Assembly of Madrid. And there’s a fourth meeting place for football fans: Plaza de Colón, where derby rivalries are set aside to celebrate the Spanish football team’s victories.


Every visitor to Madrid knows that the football craze is part of the city’s atmosphere. Football lovers even rank among the crowds of museum visitors, as the Atlético de Madrid home has a museum, and both this club and the Bernabéu stadium offer guided tours of their facilities.

A visit to Madrid’s Wax Museum affords the unusual sight of Iker Casillas or Cristiano Ronaldo playing in the same pitch as Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and Fernando Torres. And if you’re willing to venture beyond city limits into the town of Las Rozas and its Football City, the Museum of the Spanish Football Team, guarded by a Modernist gate dating from 1900, will take you on a journey through the country’s football history, starting with glorious old-time players like Ricardo Zamora, Telmo Zarra, Ferran Olivella, José Ángel Iribar or Alfredo Di Stéfano and reaching up to the present-day stars of La Roja, as the national team is commonly dubbed.


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