Few things in sports rival the moment when you first walk into a packed stadium as a youngster. Seeing your team out on the field and looking on in awe as thousands of your fellow supporters roar them onto victory is an experience unlike any other. For sports fans, their stadium is like Mecca; it’s a place to which they make their bi-weekly pilgrimage and a site that is to be respected and revered.
Of course, stadiums come in all shapes and sizes, and as time has progressed, they have developed into iconic architectural structures. While there are impressive stadia in almost every country on the planet, we’ve selected five and introduce them below as the most beautiful stadiums in the world.
1. Allianz Arena, Germany
Situated on the outskirts of the Bavarian city of Munich, the Allianz Arena was completed in 2005. Built in just three years, the stadium is now home to TSV 1860 and FC Bayern, while the German national football team also plays their games at the stadium once in a while. With a capacity of 75,000, the steep terraces make for a wonderful atmosphere, and the concourses are lined with refreshment stands catering to all fans.
The most impressive element of the Allianz Arena, however, is the stunning exterior of inflated ETFE plastic panels that can be illuminated in a variety of colors. As such, it is the first stadium in the world to boast a full color-changing exterior.
2. Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia
The jewel in Australia’s sporting crown is undoubtedly Melbourne Cricket Ground, more commonly known as the MCG. With a current capacity of 100,024, it is the largest stadium in the southern hemisphere and the second-largest cricket stadium in the world behind the Narendra Modi Stadium in India.
The original ground opened in 1853, before undergoing significant redevelopments in 1992 and again in 2006, when the impressive northern stand was improved. Since opening, the MCG has hosted domestic and international cricket, Australian Football League, and National Rugby League fixtures. Its cylindrical bowl shape makes it an iconic feature of Melbourne’s skyline.
3. Michigan Stadium, United States
The Michigan Stadium is nicknamed ‘The Big House,’ and for a good reason. This leviathan venue is the third-largest stadium in the world, with an official capacity of 107,601. Since opening in 1927, it has been expanded no fewer than seven times.
Fortunately, designers at the time of the stadium’s initial construction decided to lay the foundations to support future renovations, and the subsequent expansions have hardly altered the original charm of the iconic ground. While there’s nothing fancy about the Big House, it is arguably America’s most iconic football venue in a state renowned for its competitive spirit.
4. Wembley Stadium, England
When the Twin Towers of Wembley fell in 2003, few English football fans could envisage something as iconic being built in its place, even the football bookmakers predicted something far smaller.. However, they needn’t have worried. Built on almost the exact same location, the ‘new’ Wembley is a 90,000-seat arena that hosts all of England’s home international fixtures, as well as a range of domestic finals and European competitions.
The distinguishing feature of Wembley today is the stunning lattice arch, which has a 7m internal diameter and a 315m span. As well as serving as a prominent design feature of the stadium, it is also there to support Wembley’s roof, which can be opened and closed as and when necessary in order to protect the pitch.
5. Beijing National Stadium, China
Built specifically for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the National Stadium is also more commonly referred to as ‘The Bird’s Nest.’ The iconic stadium was actually designed by Swiss architects, and it takes its nickname from the wonderful exterior of interconnected steel, which is often lit up at night to provide a beautiful spectacle against the night’s sky.
Since the 2008 Olympics, the National Stadium has been used somewhat sporadically to host occasional football matches, a motor racing carnival, and an Athletics World Championships. When the stadium plays host to the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, it will become the only stadium to host both the summer and winter Olympic opening ceremonies.
Defining a stadium’s beauty is a subjective task. What is incredibly pristine, modern, and innovative might be bland and soulless to another. As such, the five stadiums we’ve introduced above have something for everyone and incorporate a range of designs and construction techniques.
If you’re ever fortunate enough to watch a sporting event in any of the world’s most beautiful stadiums, be sure to enjoy your surroundings as well as the spectacle playing out on the field in front of you.