FC Barcelona Stadium Tour. Camp Nou Experience
The FC Barcelona stadium has been awarded the UEFA 5 star rating and the visit around the stadium, dressing rooms, coach’s bench and pitch is a must for anyone who loves football.
Even if you aren’t a football fan, you’ll enjoy the spectacular stadium tour.
Barcelona’s museum has been remodelled and now offers an unforgettable interactive experience for all football and of course, especially Barça fans.
The Camp Nou Experience is one of the most popular attractions in Barcelona, drawing more people than the Picasso Museum,
so you’d be better off buying your ticket on-line here
rather than joining the lengthy queue outside the stadium entrance.
This is especially important if you visit at the weekend or on the day before a match. One of the times I visited the stadium –the day before a match– it was very full and lots of supporters of the visiting team were queuing for a long time to get their tickets.
And be careful at the height of summer. You really don’t want to be queuing for a long time in the baking sun. Buy your tickets on-line and pick up them up from an office near the top of the Ramblas, right in the centre of town.
Another thing to bear in mind is visiting on a match day as the ground is closed for training and the Stadium tour is not available. See details of the opening times here.
The Camp Nou Experience has 3 main areas
1. Knowledge on the first floor.
Barcelona FC History
Here you can enjoy FC Barcelona’s history from the foundation by Joan Gamper (who changed his name from Hans to identify himself and the club with Catalonia) through 12 stages to the present day. There are a great many photographs and historical objects including first team kit and boots, programmes, posters…
The Barça Wall of History is a gigantic interactive touch-screen display showing video, photos and music.
Barcelona FC Triumphs
A 50 metre long showcase displays the official trophies FC Barcelona has won over the years.
There’s another interactive touch-screen display showing even more information on key players, managers, the overwhelming statistics and the Barcelona Foundation.
FC Barcelona and its values
There’s an area devoted to each of the Club’s four core values: Catalan identity, Universality, Social Commitment and Democracy. It’s actually quite interesting to see how the Club has always been an important part of people’s lives in Barcelona and Catalonia and how the Club works towards bringing its values and the opportunity they offer to less fortunate people.
Before leaving this section you can see one of Golden Balls won by Messi as well as the Golden Boot.
At the end of the first floor display is a showcase with the 6 Cups FC Barcelona won in 2009.
All this is pretty good and very interesting but the next bit’s really brilliant!
2. The Experience
This part of the FC Barcelona Stadium tour takes in the stadium itself and starts with the area the players are interviewed —that's the one Piqué has been avoiding so as not to talk about his affair with Shakira— and then the pressroom where coach Pep Guardiola fields questions after the matches.
The next time you get a chance, observe Guardiola's respectful, serious, professional approach –always concentrated on the essentials and areas under his responsibility, always a good word for the opposition. Contrast it with the histrionics and distracting tactics of lesser gifted managers and trainers, who –with wooden spoon always at the ready– are quick to mix things up, blame others, criticise and destabilise.
Then you get to see the visitors’ changing rooms, as clean as a whistle and quite clinical. Above the lockers, screens display close-ups of the hundreds of internationals and other great players who have changed there. Quite a few of them must have left here feeling down in the dumps!
Don’t be led into believing you can see Barça’s locker rooms, they are never open to the public as the players’ personal gear is in there.
Between the dressing rooms and the stairs up to the pitch is the chapel with a replica of La Moreneta, the Black Virgin of Montserrat.
Which is a bit of a swizz really because, as a Patron of Catalunya, she’s obviously not going to intercede for the visiting teams, even the other Barcelona team, which is called Español.
This name, by the way, was chosen to distinguish the Club from el Barça, founded by foreigners and with foreigners actually playing in the team.
Perhaps a neutral figure in the chapel would have been more sporting, say Our Lady of Lourdes, because, let’s face it, most teams need a miracle to get anywhere against this Barça.
One of the high points is the walk through the players’ tunnel. Loud speakers play the club anthem and recorded cheers from the crowd. As you go up the stairs towards the pitch, the voices of a hundred thousand fans ring in your ears chanting Barça! Barça Baaaaaarça! You feel like Messi, Cruyff and Kubala all rolled into one!
And right there is Pep Guardiola’s bench, or rows of aeroplane seats really. When I was there they were taped off and you couldn’t sit on them, though I’ve often seen photos of people sitting on them, grinning happily and looking nothing like successful football coaches.
The last time I was there, the day before a home match, the pitch was d covered with gigantic rows of lamps.
Because the pitch is so low, it doesn’t get the light the grass needs to grow (in Barcelona?!) and these devices, looking for all the world like those gigantic irrigation sprinklers you see in the country, were lined on the pitch, row after row, shedding a yellowish light on the grass.
A word of warning. Although in some descriptions of the Camp Nou Experience it says you can walk on the pitch, this is cordoned off.
Whilst I was there, a couple of youngsters couldn’t resist the temptation of hopping over the barriers and taking snapshots of each other on the pitch itself. The security guards radioed around, quickly organised themselves, nabbed the kids and escorted then out of the stadium in short order. So, cross the barrier at your peril.
The view from the pitch level is amazing. This is the largest stadium in Europe and holds 98,787 people. Just seeing it empty is an amazing experience. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a young player making his debut before a full house… I couldn’t get a decent photo with my puny camera, but I hope to go back soon with a better one.
The first team sometimes trains in the Camp Nou, but as in the Joan Gamper Training Ground, the sessions are not open to the public and so the Stadium is closed.
Going up the stairs or lift you reach the press boxes where the commentators sit, what a view they have! Magnificent!
I’ve always felt a bit sorry for the poor old commentators though; condemned as they are to talk for an hour and a half non-stop every week. The law of averages alone makes it clear that they must spout out dozens of idiotic banalities every working day of their lives.
That must be why they try to dazzle you with streams of statistics, such as the number of cups of tea the visiting left-back has drunk since leaving school or the exact thickness of the coats of paint on the Chairman’s door.
I bet they’re quite bright chaps really. Some of them…
When they’re not insulting female assistant referees… or vice-chairmen of West Ham… Do me a favour, love…
The next bit’s really good too and helps you get a real feel for Barça. You can listen to the Barça anthem in 30 languages, hear the Camp Nou crowd in full voice over a super-surround-sound-system, and watch the best all-time goals on enormous LCD screens… There’s a really nice touch, too. Mobile phone screen size displays show pictures of players, fans and club members. It’s great, like a field of flowers, a portrait seen close up or a mosaic…it shows the club as something big made up of individuals working together in harmony. Smashing.
There are more touch screens showing dramatic historic moments in FC Barcelona history and others showing the many other of FC Barcelona’s sporting activities: basketball, hockey, athletics, handball, roller-hockey and a long etcetera along with some of their greatest successes.
A lot of these less popular sports are very popular indeed in the smaller towns of Catalonia and Barça’s involvement in them means they are not wholly overshadowed by football. Also, small local teams who will never play against Barça at football, might win, say, a hockey match against them. Obviously beating Barcelona would make them very proud indeed.
You get a good idea of the Club’s sheer dimension and incredible level of activity across an impressively wide range of sports.
The last part of the FC Barcelona Stadium Tour is a popular favourite and offers you the chance to have your snapshot taken with your favourite player. Not that the players are there of course. You name your player of choice to the photographer, stand in front of the kind of screen the weathermen use on the telly, stick out your arm as if in friendly embrace and smile for the dickey-bird.
The photographer makes sure your arm looks “natural”.
Meanwhile, a queue of a hundred people wait to do the same. Having nothing else to do, they spend their time looking at you and hoping they will not look quite so silly as you do, standing alone, grinning inanely and embracing emptiness.
After a few seconds, Hey Presto! You can see yourself standing next to your idol, arm round his shoulders. You check your photo, and, if you like it, you can buy it on your way out. A small one costs 12 euro. There’s no obligation to buy, once you see the finished shot.
The way out takes you through the FC Barcelona Shop. And what a shop it is! It seems like every conceivable article has been printed, stamped or embroidered with the club badge, logo or made in the club colours.
Apart from the fist team’s home, away and third kits –all great to my mind– there are tracksuits, jackets, carpet slippers, socks, (give these to Madrid fans who will then have to bow down to Barça every time they put them on) anoraks, caps, bobble-hats, “Barretines” and of course scarves.
It doesn’t stop there though. Is your dog feeling the cold? Buy him a little Barça coat, there are several sizes. And a matching lead. Can’t watch the match on just any old TV? Get your claret and blue telly complete with the Club badge.
Baby won’t stop crying? Get him an official Barça dummy. (Mourinho could do with one of these…)
And bib. And romper suit. And bootees…
And that's the end of the FC Barcelona Stadium tour. After all this you deserve to pop outside and sample one of the excellent Barcelona beers at the handy snack-bar.
If you have been wise enough to buy a
Tourist Bus ticket
you can hop back on it, just outside and enjoy the view on your ride back into the centre of town.
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