Following research, we loved what we saw about the Olympiastadion and asked to drop by to take some shots. They were kind enough to provide us with match tickets to see local Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin play, however all thoughts and opinions are – as always – formed independently and without agreement to be favourable.
Long before we started to travel both Franca and I were in awe of the Olympiastadion, possibly one of the most iconic stadiums in mainland Europe, if not the world.
It’s been the scene of many memorable events from the world of sport, most recently as the final stadium choice for the FIFA World Cup 2006 final in which Franca’s football-crazy home country of Italy defeated France to claim the tornament trophy, but most notably of all; the scene of the Nazi Germany organised pre-second world war Olympics where Jesse Owens defied all expectation in the face of adversity to not only succeed, but to come first in not one but four events in 1936.
As Lovers Of Architecture & Football
Prior to our lives of travelling around the world for the past two years, both Franca and I would spend more nights than we can probably recall now just sitting on the sofa in our apartment, watching football (or soccer if you prefer) – and not just the English Premier League either. Anywhere between two to four nights a week there would be one competition or another being covered on one of the many varying television channels and we would quite happily enjoy any of them. One night we’d be watching an Italian team defending hard against their slick passing Spanish opposition, another night it’d may well have been an English side we knew well, playing fast counter-attacking football, in an attempt at breaking down the opposing German team; so to say that we love the sport may perhaps be an understatement.
Our being quite keen on enjoying the wonders of modern architecture, it doesn’t take much imagination to determine that the world of football and the incredible football grounds it inhabits were often at the forefronts of our mind when we would watch the coverage of a game, leading us to note so many modern and historically great stadiums as ‘must-sees‘ should we ever be in the same cities.
As you can correctly assume, the Olympiastadion has been pretty near to the top of that list for quite a while.
Built At A Different Time
Constructed between 1934 and 1936 on the site originally intended to host the stadium and sports grounds for the 1916 Summer Olympics that were unfortunately cancelled due to the outbreak of the First World War; the stadium and surround sports fields that replaced the former buildings were built under the keen attention and supervision of the Nazi Germany government who were intent on using the forthcoming games as a propergander piece for their idiollogy, and as a showcase of how far Deutschland had come in the following twenty years since The Great War.
Being somewhat of a Second World War history buff as a teen, I was fully aware of the historical importance of the structure and the many era-difining events that have happened there; but hold the architecture of the stadium itself to be some of the best I’ve ever seen. Regardless of the people who built it and the ridiculous ideologies they stood by; the building itself is a masterpiece of architectural design and engineering that is loved by a large portion of the people of Berlin who, that rather than see its destruction when given the chance after the reunification, instead chose to see it restored.
With typical fascist architecture leaning towards Ancient Roman replication (much like the Palazzo della Civilta’ Italiana we wrote about once before); there’s plenty about the Olympiastadion that seems so familiar to ancient classics of the Roman era – like the Colossium, or the arena in Pula captured by Jennifer of Jdombstravels.com.
The Event Of The Day
Having the chance to stroll between the arches and walk around the stadium, admiring the construction and taking photographs, was an incredible opportunity for the both of us to see somewhere momentous, but the true feeling of a stadium is in the events it contains. The roar of the ground, the shouts of encouragement, the sighs of dejection; all of it creates an atmosphere and feeling that can’t be replicated outside of those walls. The closest feeling that I can describe would be that of standing in a crowd at a music concert and singing, crying and enjoying the moment with the crowd, but the Olympiastadion hosts live concerts too, with large international acts such as The Rolling Stones being frequent visitors.
The real moment of satisfaction for us was that the day in question that we’d be there was matchday, a day where all of the local fans of resident Bundesliga (German National Football Championship) team, Hertha Berlin come together to show their support and to sing the longs of the team who are fortunate enough to call this incredible stadium home.
Hertha Berlin, And The Fans
There’s a saying in the football world that the supports are ‘the twelfth man‘ of the eleven-a-side team, such is the incredible effect that the singing, cheering and cries of support has. The fans of Hertha embody that saying perfectly.
Even though we’ve both been to our fair share of live football games, neither of us have ever heard anything quite like the vocal noise and support that came out of the fans that day. It was breathtaking to watch and to hear, even from halfway distance around the stadium from where the most vocal congregate together to where we’d be seated for the game; it was as if they were sitting right next to us. The acoustics of the stadium are perfect, you can almost hear the conversation of the people on the opposite side to where you sit (a slight exaggeration, but I hope you understand what I mean).
All around us were fans not just of the home team but also the travelling fans of the opposing team, Werder Bremen; somewhat unusual for me where ‘away fans‘ tend to be kept as far away from the local fans as possible to avoid any hostility irrupting between them.
Beside us we were surrounded by grounds of men, groups of women, and entire families sitting together. Football in Germany is as much a family day out as anywhere else in the world, the major plus point with German football and the top tier Bundesliga being that it’s highly affordable to everyone, no matter how little your income; it’s incredible accessible and has a great ‘day out for all of the family‘ feel. You’ve only got to see the grandparents with their grandchildren on their shoulders in the queues to see how together it brings everyone.
So Who Won?
This being the first day of the new Bundesliga season following a summer which saw Germany win the World Cup in Brazil, there was a lot of excitement on the air.
Hertha play a really great style of football that I could be quite happy to watch on a regular basis should we decided to start making our roots here in Berlin. They play fast, defend well and have a strong back line; however, it didn’t stop them conceding two goals during the match to a team who finished within a handle of points of them last season. Thankfully, the game didn’t end end as a loss thanks to two goals in the first half scored by summer signing, Julian Schieber, both of which lifted the roof off of the stadium once the close to 60,000 fans in the ground started to shout with excitement before breaking into yet another rousing song for their beloved Hertha.
How To Get There
Whether you’re intending to visit the Olympiastadion for one of the viewing and guided tours (that we discovered on their website prior to arriving, but are unavailable on match days) or to attend a similar spectacle to the one we enjoyed, you only need board an S-Bahn or U-Bahn and head in the direction of the closest located (and aptly named) station, Olympiastadion.
For usage of a car or the bus, or for more details on the underground or train we highly recommend visiting the directions page on the official Olympiastadion website.
Ha Ho He Hertha BSC!
“Ha Ho He Hertha BSC” is the cry you’ll hear of support by the fans of the team, and after the day spent around the breathtaking and historically important stadium, not to mention the highly entertaining and first live football game for us in over 48 months; we feel like lending our voice to the call as we really enjoyed ourselves and felt immensely happy to be there. Perhaps it’s a contagious feeling from the supporters, but we felt nothing but pride to support Hertha on the day, and would certainly return to support them again before the Bundesliga is over for another year.
Would you love to visit the Olympiastadion?
Transport for the day was provided to us by VisitBerlin and their easy to use Berlin WelcomeCard, making it super easy to commute during our stay. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, our own.