Dortmund's impressive SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, home to the world's biggest crowds. - © © imago
Dortmund's impressive SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, home to the world's biggest crowds. - © © imago

Bundesliga Cathedrals: Part One

The Bundesliga boasts the biggest crowds in world football, and those fans watch their heroes perform in some of the most cutting edge stadiums on the planet. In a three-part series, looks at the state-of-the-art stages on which the stars of Germany's top tier perform.

SIGNAL IDUNA PARK,Borussia Dortmund

In a three-part series, looks at the state-of-the-art stages on which the stars of Germany's top tier perform.

Click here for part two!

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BayArena,Bayer 04 Leverkusen

It is one of the most imposing sights in football: 100 metres wide, 40 metres long, the 'Yellow Wall' of Dortmund fans that opposing teams face at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK is simply breathtaking. Its 24,454 capacity makes it the biggest standing area in European football, and contributes a large chunk to BVB's whopping 80,000 average crowd, the biggest on Planet Football. BVB's biggest rivals, Revierderby neighbours FC Schalke 04, helped open the stadium with a friendly in April 1976, and were involved in the first Bundesliga game there later the same month. Bizarrely though, Dortmund — in Bundesliga 2 at the time — were not. Bochum had borrowed the venue for their match with the Royal Blues while their own stadium was being built.

Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor,SV Darmstadt 98

One of the most striking features of Leverkusen’s ground is not necessarily too obvious at first glance. On closer inspection, you will notice that the roof is self-supporting from outside the ground. The tent-like construction with a diameter of 217 metres also extends far over the grandstands to provide shelter from rain. The BayArena has undergone frequent expansion and renovation work since the original construction was started in April 1956. The last redevelopment, which included the West Stand being demolished, brought the capacity up to 30,000, 10 percent of which is terracing.

RheinEnergie Stadion,1. FC Köln

The unusual name, Böllenfalltor, stems from the southern Hesse dialect word for 'poplar', which were numerous in the area in which the stadium now finds itself. There are still some of the trees around the venue now, which are protected by the club. The company Merck KGaA was due to give its name to the stadium in a sponsorship deal, but renounced its right to honour Jonathan Heimes, a fanatical Darmstadt supporter who died last year.

WWK Arena,FC Augsburg

The original Sportpark Müngersdorf was inaugurated in 1923 and until the opening of Berlin’s Olympiastadion in 1936, it was the biggest sports ground in Germany. It was first redeveloped in the 1970s and again ahead of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, meaning fans are now much closer to the action following the removal of the athletics track. The stadium is notable for the four steel towers at the corner of each stand, which are illuminated in red and white by LED lighting for each Köln home game.

Weser Stadium,SV Werder Bremen

Augsburg's home is a ground-breaking feat where modern construction meets art. It is the first climate neutral football stadium in the world thanks to heat pumps and six 40-metre deep wells. Circulation pumps push 200,000 litres of water an hour through two plate heat exchangers as part of a complex, highly-efficient system that heats the whole venue, from the VIP boxes to the dressing-rooms, while also preventing the bitter winter frost from damaging the pitch.

It is perhaps unsurprising that in a city renowned for its marine heritage, Bremen's stadium has its own dock. What is more unusual is that it has housed a small solar power station since 2008. Sixteen thousand square metres of solar panels on the stadium's structure provide enough electricity to cover the annual energy demands of 300 households.

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