Address: Paseo Virgen del Puerto 67
Metro: Marqués de Vadillo or Pirámides (L5)
The Vicente Calderón is home to football Club Atlético Madrid, who in 1996 won the Liga and Copa del Rey double, winning each of those trophies for the ninth time in total. But since that glorious year, they have not won anything major. Although in the early years of the Franco dictatorship, Atlético was actually the preferred team of the regime, that attitude later changed as the government jumped on the Real Madrid bandwagon, and now it is the red and white half of the city that is considered the ‘rebels’.
The stadium was completed in 1966 as a replacement for the smaller Estadio Metropolitano. Originally called the Estadio Manzanares, but renamed in 1971 in honour of the club president, it was the first all-seater football stadium in Spain. The stadium was revamped for the 1982 World Cup, where it hosted the France/Austria/Northern Ireland group, and since 2003 has enjoyed the maximum 5 Star UEFA Elite status.
Every now and again the Vicente Calderón has been used for stadium gigs, most notably for the visit of the late, great Michael Jackson in 1992, but also by The Rolling Stones, Shakira, Black Eyed Peas, AC/DC, Muse, U2 and Madonna as well as in 2006 for the 40th anniversary of the 40 Principales radio station, at which over 40 major artists appeared.
Sadly, the stadium is set to be demolished in 2014 and replaced with the Park Atlético Madrid, while the football team will switch to La Peineta Stadium, which currently only holds 20,000, but will hold 73,000 once the reconstruction is over. Atlético fans are generally not too impressed with the idea, for apart from being moved from their spiritual home, the move doesn’t seem to imply any particular financial benefits for the club itself.
While you will see signs indicating the location of Real Madrid’s Bernabéu all over the city, and it’s an obligatory stop on any tour of the city, the poor old Vicente Calderón is largely overlooked by tourists. It’s a shame, because it’s in a terrific location, right against the banks of the Manzanares river in the Arganzuela district of the city.
On the metro, you want to get L5, and you can pick between Marqués de Vadillo or Pirámides, the latter also serving Cercanías C-7 and C-10, but the former perhaps being the nicer option simply because you get to make the obligatory photo stop with the river in the foreground. From the station, you want to head down the street just to the right of Hotel Puerta de Toledo. You’ll get your bearings because just over the river you’ll see a big red and white thing that resembles a football stadium being used for a rock concert. That looks like the kind of place you might need to head for.
Of course, depending on where you’re based, you could always just walk there. It’s only about half an hour on foot from Plaza Mayor, and even less from the Palacio Real, and you’ll get to see a bit of the city on your way.