Almost two years ago I visited one of the most famous stadiums in the footballing world, el Santiago Bernabéu, home of Real Madrid.
This week I returned to Spain, but this time ventured into the home of their Catalan rivals: Camp Nou. The largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 98,787, it stands in the centre of Barcelona along with it's museum and 3 storey merchandise store. You can tour the legendary stadium for 23 euros, and like the Santiago Bernabéu, it does not have a guide - you are free to take as much time as you like browsing the various sections open to the public (and believe me, it's gonna take time!)
The tour follows a chronological pattern leading you from the inception of Barça in 1899 through their illustrious career, in both La Liga and Europe. The museum features tri-lingual plaques filled with information about the club and important moments throughout their history - for example the signing of Diego Maradona in 1982.
Once you've finished looking at the endless rows of trophies and vintage kits, you step out into the stadium itself. No matter who you support or where you come from, you cannot help but feel awestruck as the infamous 'més que un club' comes into view.
Stadiums this big make the average premier league 45,000 seaters feel like a cosy meeting in the pub, some seats are so high up it makes you wonder whether they provide a complimentary telescope with every match ticket in order to watch the game...
Once you've finished marvelling at the pitch, it's back inside to the dressing rooms. Initially they are quite plain (unlike the personalised dressing rooms at the Bernabéu) that is until you reach the massive hot tub in the middle of the room...
The tour continues by giving you the chance to have a photo taken of you and your favourite player! (With the help of green screen of course) After this you can go through onto the touchline, and from this angle the place looks even bigger! The next part of the tour takes place at the top of the stadium, so prepare for some serious stairs. They can pay £65 million for Luis Suárez, but don't expect them to shell out for a lift. You may think this is an overexaggeration, but the woman next to me had to stop climbing the stairs because she couldn't breathe (to be fair, she was trying to climb them like Usain Bolt).
Once at the summit, you can admire the view of Barcelona from Camp Nou. The landscape of Barcelona is beautiful and takes your breath away (if you haven't already lost it climbing the stairs). The tour concludes with a 3D experience of the club, where you can use to headphones to listen to the typical atmosphere at the Nou Camp during a game and view clips of their finest moments. After this you are directed, as always, back to the shop to spend 15 quid on a pencil. I saved this money and spent it in one of the small bars close to the stadium (£1.20 for a beer!).
The 23 euros was well worth paying however, in order to experience one of the most famous stadiums in football. I'd love to go back to watch a match and experience the atmosphere first hand. A must for any football fan.