18+ | Commercial Content | T&Cs apply | Begambleaware.org
As the popularity of European football continues to grow, so too do the stadiums that provide the backdrop. With more money in football than ever, the 21st century’s most iconic stadiums are more than just football pitches – they now host everything from NFL matches to concerts.
Let’s have a look at the ten biggest stadiums in Europe.
Location: Munich, Germany
Opened: 30 May 2005
Construction cost (at time of completion): €340 million
Home to 32-time Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, the Allianz Arena is perhaps best known for its iconic colour-changing plastic exterior – it is the only stadium which can completely change colour, thanks to 2,874 air-filled foil cushions, which cover 66,500 square metres.
The ground is also home to the largest video walls in Europe, each measuring 198.72 square metres from corner to corner.
The stadium has hosted some iconic matches, from the opening game of the 2006 World Cup between hosts Germany and Costa Rica, to the 2012 Champions League final between Bayern and Chelsea, when Didier Drogba propelled the Blues to European glory.
Location: Manchester, England
Opened: 19 February 1910
Construction cost (at time of completion): £90,000
English football’s largest club stadium, Old Trafford is of course home to 20-time top flight champions Manchester United. The “Theatre of Dreams”, as it was nicknamed by club legend Bobby Charlton, is the oldest stadium on this list, having been designed and opened by Archibald Leitch more than 110 years ago.
Leitch is the godfather of British stadiums, designing or helping to design the likes of Anfield, Highbury, Hampden Park, Hillsborough, Stamford Bridge, Twickenham, Villa Park, White Hart Line and many, many more.
In recent years, as a result of neglect from the club’s owners the Glazer family, the stadium has fallen into disrepair. Reports of a leaking roof, overflowing toilets and a rodent infestation serve as perfect metaphors for the current state of the club.
However, new part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has supposedly put aside £250 million for infrastructure projects, and appointed architectural firm Populous to oversee the renovations.
The hope for Manchester United fans is the investment can see their club return to the cutting edge both on the pitch and in the rest of the building.
Atatürk Olympic Stadium
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Opened: 31 July 2002
Construction cost (at time of completion): $140 million
The Atatürk will forever be remembered by Liverpool fans as the site of their remarkable 2005 Champions League win, where they came from 3-0 down at half-time to beat AC Milan on penalties after drawing 3-3.
The stadium will also have a place in Manchester City supporters’ hearts as the location for their first ever Champions League win, the victory which sealed their historic treble.
Named after the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the stadium has been the temporary home of many different Turkish clubs.
Over the years, the likes of Galatasaray, Besiktas, Istanbul Basaksehir and Sivasspor have played their home games at the Atatürk.
Fatih Karagümrük are the current residents, having played their since their promotion to the Süper Lig in 2020.
Location: Milan, Italy
Opened: 19 September 1926
Construction cost (at time of completion): €2,500
Known as San Siro by Milan fans and the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (named after the two-time World Cup winner and forward who played for both clubs) by those supporting Inter, Italy’s largest stadium is home to both and is probably the most iconic shared ground in the world.
Recognisable for its cylindrical concrete structures around the perimeter, San Siro has hosted matches at two different World Cups – as well as the opening ceremony in 1990 – and four European finals, the most recent of which came in 2016 when Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Despite the stadium’s reputation as one of the most well-known in world football, both clubs have in recent years stated desires to knock San Siro down and build new stadiums.
Location: Moscow, Russia
Opened: 31 July 1956
Construction cost (at time of near-complete rebuild): €350 million
Known as the Central Lenin Stadium until 1992, Luzhniki Stadium was constructed in 1956 but almost entirely rebuilt between 2013 and 2017 in advance of the 2018 World Cup. It hosted the opening match and the final that year, as well as the 2008 Champions League final in which Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Home for many years to staunch rivals Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow, the stadium is now the temporary home of second-tier side FC Torpedo Moscow.
In 1982, a UEFA Cup match between Spartak and HFC Haarlem ended in disaster when 66 people died in a stampede attempting to exit the stadium. The disaster was covered up by the Soviet authorities and the full death count was only revealed seven years later in 1989.
Luzhniki Stadium is one of very few large football stadiums to use an artificial pitch, which was fully plastic between 2002 and 2016, when a hybrid turf was installed, made up of 95 per cent grass and 5 per cent plastic.
Stade de France
Location: Saint-Denis, France
Opened: 28 January 1998
Construction cost (at time of completion): €364 million
Located just outside Paris, the Stade de France was built for the 1998 World Cup and is the home of the French national football and rugby teams. Having hosted the final that year and the Rugby World Cup final on three occasions, it is one of only two stadiums to have hosted both the football and rugby World Cup finals – the other being Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.
The Stade de France has also hosted three Champions League finals, most recently in 2022 when chaos ensued outside the stadium before the game between Liverpool and Real Madrid. Poor planning and aggressive policing – the use of tear gas and pepper spray on men, women and children – caused a crush which left 238 people injured and could easily have led to deaths.
The match was delayed by 36 minutes, with UEFA blaming the chaos on fake tickets and supporters arriving late. However, a full report commissioned by UEFA and published in February 2023 found that UEFA were mostly to blame for organisational failures.
Signal Iduna Park
Location: Dortmund, Germany
Opened: 2 April 1974
Construction cost (at time of completion): €16.7 million
Best known for its iconic “Yellow Wall” – the largest single stand in Europe with a capacity of 24,454 – Signal Iduna Park is home to Borussia Dortmund. The stadium has a fervent atmosphere, and holds the European record for average fan attendance – 80,588 per game in the 2011-12 season when Dortmund won the league and cup double under Jürgen Klopp.
Despite this, Signal Iduna Park has hosted comparatively few huge matches. It was the stage for various games at the 1974 and 2006 World Cups, as well as the 2001 UEFA Cup Final which was won with a golden goal by Liverpool against Alavés. However, it is the only stadium on this list never to have hosted a European Cup or Champions League final.
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
Location: Madrid, Spain
Opened: 14 December 1947
Construction cost (at time of completion): €1.7 million
Home to Europe’s most successful club, Real Madrid, the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu is, of course, one of the most iconic stadiums in the world. There are no end to the famous matches the Bernabéu has hosted, from Champions League finals to World Cup finals.
In fact, it is the only stadium to have ever hosted the two most notable continental club finals, having hosted the second leg of River Plate’s 2018 Copa Libertadores win over Boca Juniors.
It was also the site of the 1964 European Nations’ Cup final and 1982 World Cup final, making the Bernabéu Europe’s first ground to host both a UEFA Euro final and World Cup final.
The stadium has recently reopened following a massive reported €1 billion renovation program. It now features a retractable roof, retractable pitch, 360-degree video screens and a boosted capacity. It is expected to be formally unveiled sometime this summer.
Location: London, England
Opened: 9 March 2007
Construction cost (at time of completion): £789 million
Having opened on the site of the old Wembley Stadium which had stood there for 80 years until 2003, the new Wembley is recognisable for its 134-metre-high arch.
It is, of course, the home of the England national team but was also where Tottenham Hotspur played their home games between August 2017 and March 2019, in between White Hart Lane being demolished and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium being completed.
Interestingly, the stadium has more toilets than any other venue in the world.
Despite being the newest stadium on this list, Wembley has already hosted some huge fixtures. Alongside the historic Lionesses’ Euro 2022 win, the stadium was chosen as the site for the 2011 and 2013 Champions League finals, won by Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively. It is also due to host this season’s Champions League final on 1 June.
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Opened: 24 September 1957
Construction cost (at time of completion): €1.7 million
What can you say about the iconic Camp Nou, the largest stadium in Europe and home of FC Barcelona?
Originally due to be called “Estadi del FC Barcelona”, it quickly became known as Camp Nou (new field) to distinguish it from the club’s old stadium, Les Corts.
The stadium has had a fluctuating capacity over the years, going as high as 120,000 for the 1982 World Cup and decreasing again when new regulations banned standing areas.
Camp Nou is due to return to six-figure attendances in the 2025-26 season, now that work is underway on a £1.25 billion renovation program. The stadium will feature a retractable roof, 30,000 square metres of solar panels, and a whopping 105,000 capacity.
Though it has hosted two European Cup/Champions League finals in 1989 and 1999, the largest stadium in Europe has never hosted a World Cup final. However, that could be due to change in 2030, when Spain will host the tournament alongside Portugal and Morocco.