The grounds of many of Europe’s top football clubs are now extremely popular tourist attractions. The likes of the “Nou Camp” (Barcelona), the “Amsterdam ArenA” (Ajax), and Old Trafford (Manchester United) attract thousands of visitors every month, likewise Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, the “Olympiastadion”, also attracts its fair share of national and international visitors.
The Olympic Stadium, unlike the aforementioned stadiums, though is not home to an internationally famous football team, home as it is to Hertha BSC, and yet every year some 300,000 visitors make the trip to see the stadium.
Often visitors to Berlin simply take a chance to visit the Olympiastadion because of the history associated with it. Even today, many people are aware that the Berlin stadium played host to the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, as held by Germany’s Nazi regime.
A new stadium was built upon the site of a previous stadium, upon the direct orders of Hitler, with the intention of showing the mastery of the Nazis through architecture.
Designed by Otto March, the stadium building was an impressive structure; the Olympic Games themselves though did not go the way that Hitler would have wished. Most notably of course was the success that Jesse Owens, although overall Germany won the most medals of any nation. During the Berlin Olympics, the Olympiastadion played host to athletics, equestrian, handball and football events.
The Olympic Stadium survived the Second World War pretty much intact, and was partially used as the British military headquarters after 1945.
After the war the stadium would continue to act as a sports stadia as well, and was particularly associated with football.
The Olympic Stadium was used for games during two world cups, the German Cup finals, as well as home games for Hertha BSC. Additionally today, Berlin’s Olympic Stadium also plays host to other sporting events, as well as concerts, with the site also containing a sports hall and woodland theatre.
The stadium is open to visitors on non-event days, and getting to the site is relatively easy if the Berlin public transportation system is being used. The U-Bahn, the U2, as well as the S-Bahn, the S3 and S75, both stop at the stadium, with only a short walk to the stadium entrances from the respective stops.
There is a visitor centre and souvenir shop attached to the Olympic Stadium, which are open from 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning, although closing times vary depending on the time of the year. It is worth checking opening times before visiting.
It is from the visitor centre that the tours of the Olympic Stadium operate. There is also opportunity to explore the stadium by yourself, for a very reasonable fee, and an audio companion can also be hired to provide information about elements of the stadium. The audio companion is a fairly cheap addition to the entrance fee, and with audio available in a number of languages, it does enhance the walk around.
Slightly more expensive is the guided tour option, available as standard tours or customised ones. Most of these tours are in the German language, although at certain times English language tours also operate, but these times will need to be checked, with times displayed on a notice board in the visitor centre.
Details of opening times and the costs of the tours can be found at the Olympic Stadium’s website.
For those interested in sport and history, and with a few hours free in Berlin, then a visit to the Olympic Stadium is a good way to pass the time. An impressive building, with many modern features, the stadium is rightly one of Berlin’s major tourist attractions.