North Rhine-Westphalia – land of football
Home to the heartbeat of sport
Football is a passion and part of life in North Rhine-Westphalia, and a visit to the stadium is an unforgettable experience here. Even when the pitch is quiet, the North Rhine-Westphalia land of football still has plenty to offer.
Stadiums and tours
Of course, the atmosphere during a local derby between Dortmund and Schalke or a Rhine derby between Cologne and Mönchengladbach is truly unique. But it is hard to acquire tickets because so many people want to attend. Fortunately there are other ways of getting into the stadium, for example taking a tour. This is a better alternative for those wishing to gain a glimpse behind the scenes, because when else would you be able to enter the player dressing rooms or walk down the tunnel into the stadium like a professional?
Germany’s largest stadium offers tours like these, among other things. The stadium formerly known as the Westfalen-Stadion in Dortmund and now called Signal-Iduna-Park is the largest in Germany and seats 80,000 spectators. Professional footballers love the special atmosphere of this stadium and a few years ago, the London Times even named this footballing temple the best stadium in the world. The competition ground in the eastern Ruhr Area also has another superlative to offer: the local stadium of BVB is home to Europe’s largest standing area. The Borusseum is also housed at the museum. This is the BVB club museum – a real ‘get involved’ museum with club song karaoke and the chance to commentate a match yourself.
Of course, there is also a club museum ‘auf Schalke’, as the Gelsenkirchen stadium is known. Hardcore fans can get married or have themselves or their children baptised in the adjoining chapel. There is even a cemetery just for Schalke fans! The stadium tours also offer a glimpse behind the scenes at the Veltins Arena, which is classed as Europe’s most modern stadium due to its closable roof and retractable pitch. And if that weren’t enough, a tour of Schalke’s history can be combined with a home game by the ‘Schalker Knappen’ (Schalke Miners) as they are fondly known, based on the motto of ‘home game and history’ – goose bumps guaranteed!
www.veltins-arena.de | www.schalke04.de
Regular tours are also held of Borussia-Park in Mönchengladbach. Anyone wishing to find out more about the ‘Borussia legend’, shaped by greats such as Günter Netzer and Berti Vogts, can take part in a tour and track down signs of Borussia across the city. The tour makes 11 stops linked to the club before ending with a lap of the stadium.
www.moenchengladbach.de | www.borussia.de
There is also the option of taking a circuit around the Düsseldorf Esprit Arena. While the Fortuna team that plays here is constantly switching back and forth between the first and second league, its home arena has already been long established as a topclass football venue. The arena has not only hosted the German national team several times, but concerts by international superstars and other events are also regularly held here. Tours of the stadium take visitors to the players’ locker rooms and the press conference room, among other areas of the arena.
For those who don’t want to leave the stadium, even at night, the Bayarena in Leverkusen is the perfect destination as Germany’s first stadium hotel – nestled within the ‘Nordkurve’ stand where the Leverkusen fans stand to watch the match. The entire stadium can also be visited during tours. In addition to the normal tours, there are also special tours for children and people with limited mobility.
In addition to the stadiums, there are also other options for exploring North Rhine-Westphalia’s legendary football. These undoubtedly include the German Football Museum in Dortmund. Opened in 2015, this museum is one of the top attractions in North Rhine-Westphalia, land of sport and a real paradise for football fans! Visitors here become participants and can walk through the players’ tunnel to the sound of the fans singing. Even the restaurant area fits perfectly into the concept, since here, the former chef of the German national team, star chef Holger Stromberg, has had a hand in the menu. Guests are served the same dishes that helped the German national players become top fit world champions.
There’s even more football at the German Sport and Olympic Museum in Cologne where everything revolves around the history of sport, from antiquity to the present day. As Germany’s favourite sport, football has its own special area in this permanent exhibition. The perfect atmosphere is created with excerpts from the legendary radio commentary of the World Cup finals in 1954 by Herbert Zimmermann in the background.
For those who fancy doing some sport themselves after all those sporting experiences, there is the perfect thing on offer from mid-March to the end of October in Essen at the Zollverein-Park, on the site of the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site (coal mine complex): soccer golf! As the name suggests, this is a combination of football and golf where the players try to get the ball along a course of 9 goals using as few strikes as possible. The route has an industrial cultural backdrop and runs through the middle of the industrial nature of the World Heritage Site. Footballs and score cards can be obtained on-site on payment of a deposit.