When the Wanda Metropolitano opened in 2017, much of the space around it was still undeveloped.
Consequently, if you were visiting the city and ventured out to the ground on a non-matchday, beyond the stadium tour, there wasn’t a huge amount to do to justify the long trip out there on Line 7.
Now things are significantly better with bars and restaurants and of course, the new museum. Territorio Atleti opened in August 2020, but with no fans allowed into La Liga matches for almost the entire 2020/21 season, it somewhat passed me by.
Indeed I wouldn’t return to the Wanda again until the beginning of July, when I received my Covid-19 vaccine. But ahead of receiving the second dose, I decided to kill a little bit of time by seeing what it had to offer.
So, is it worth a visit (even for non-Atlético fans) and how does it compare to the old one? Let’s find out!
The first thing you’ll see as you walk in is a welcome screen featuring greetings from a variety of current players and club legend Fernando Torres.
To the right of this is where you can buy your tickets.
There are a number of different packages available which will obviously affect the amount you pay. For example, I paid €16 for the museum visit, but if I had purchased online in advance it would have saved me two Euros. Indeed, if you happen to be a socio of Atleti and book ahead for a fixed time slot, the visit will only cost €7!
A full list of the prices and various different options available can be found here on Atlético’s official website. You can purchase a stadium tour, a “historic spaces” tour (basically a tour which goes around the features on the stadium concourse) and there’s even a nighttime stadium tour which allows you to see the pre-match light show.
So into the museum we go…
If you know me, you’ll know I love football shirts – and one of the first things you see in the main area of Territorio Atleti is a wall filled with the club’s old shirts.
A lot of these shirts were also on display at the old museum and trace the evolution of the club’s colours from the earliest blue and white shirts, the adoption of the classic red and white stripes and right up to some of the more interesting designs of the modern era.
There aren’t as many away kits on display, but one of my cult favourites does make an appearance. Between 2003 and 2005 Atleti were sponsored by the Columbia film studio and they changed logos every few weeks to promote whatever films were out at that time. This saw Fernando Torres and co. turned into moving billboards for such cinematic masterpieces as White Chicks, Anacondas and XXX2.
By far the most famous example of this is when they covered the navy away kit in a massive web to promote Spider-Man 2. I’d love an original one of these for my collection, but it’s unlikely to be cheap…
This new museum is significantly more hi-tech than the old one at the Calderón was and includes a lot of exhibits which make use of that.
First up, we have Desafío Pro (Pro Challenge) which allows you to put yourself against some of the current Atlético squad in different tests of skill – at least I think that’s what it does as it appeared to be out of order when I visited. Anyway, I think this is probably more of a thing for younger, more energetic visitors.
Then this man invites you into booth where you can sing along with the chants made famous by the Atlético fans and of course, the club himno!
All together now… “Yo me voy al Manzanares”
On the wall next to that there are a set of phones where you can dial different numbers and listen to messages from a number of Atleti icons from the past and present.
And finally, in front of a mural depicting some iconic moments from the club’s history, there are interactive screens where you can watch videos featuring highlights of these moments and interviews with some of the key players involved in them.
In here we have the 1974 Intercontinental Cup (more on that later), the 1995/96 Double (likewise) and more recent triumphs like the 2013 Copa del Rey and 2013/14 La Liga title. Also, it’s genuinely great to see Atlético Femenino’s three consecutive league titles put on a level footing with the men’s triumphs.
Memories of the Calderón
Two pieces of Atlético’s old home by the Manzanares have been preserved in this new museum.
First, some of the actual seats from the home dugout have been been placed here, now complete with a virtual reality headset which allows you to experience what it was like in the old ground.
Wearing a piece of expensive technology and sitting on an actual seat from the Atlético bench, they should probably rename this “The Mono Burgos Experience” after Simeone‘s erstwhile number two, a noted Google Glass wearer.
Then just over from that, some of the original red, white and blue seats from the stands have been brought over and placed in front of a highlights video.
The central part of this room is dominated by glass cases filled with various pieces of memorabilia relating to the club in the last 50 or so years.
Most of these are items which have been donated by players and include match shirts, boots, gloves, balls and individual trophies and medals. They even have one of Diego Simeone’s iconic black suits – the one he wore in the famous Copa del Rey Final win over Real Madrid in 2013.
And the cases have drawers which can be pulled out to reveal extra items, so this is a location that you will probably find yourself spending a long time at.
This part of the museum also pays tribute to Atleti’s lesser-known sports sections, including hockey, handball and athletics, all of which enjoyed success until being wound up by infamous President Jesús Gil in the 1990’s.
Is there a player more beloved by Atlético fans than Fernando Torres? There’s a special space in the museum dedicated to his story with the club – a recreation of his childhood bedroom in Fuenlabrada.
Through videos projected on the walls it tells the story of how young Fernando became an Atletico fan because of his grandfather and how he grew up dreaming of playing for them. And of course how he accomplished that dream, left to play abroad and became a hero to the whole country with his role in Spain’s historic run of three consecutive international trophies before returning home to finish his top level career and collect the one thing he was missing – a medal with his beloved Atleti.
It’s a nice presentation and includes clips of Torres himself giving his farewell speech to the Wanda Metropolitano crowd in 2018.
Of course Torres is now back at Atleti having taken up a job coaching in their youth academy, having finished up his playing days in Japan and then seriously hit the gym in the interim period. It will be interesting to see if his obvious passion for the club can translate into a successful coaching career, but what is certain is that he can pass on the importance of what playing for Atleti means to his new charges.
After watching another video presentation of some of the biggest games in the club’s history, you can then go through to the trophy room itself.
They’re divided into four sections. League trophies in a case on the far wall with friendly cup competitions (including the gigantic Teresa Herrera trophy – a silver replica of the Torre de Hercules – from Deportivo La Coruña) in a smaller case next to them. In the middle , it’s domestic cup competitions and then international trophies on the wall nearest the entrance. Here you can see the Europa League and Super Cup trophies won in the recent past as well as the much-missed Cup Winners’ Cup and the Intercontinental Cup.
A fun fact, Atlético are the only club to have won the latter competition (played between the Champions of Europe and South America between 1960 and 2004) without winning the European Cup first. This is because by the mid-1970’s, the fixtures had become infamous for on-pitch violence, especially when Argentinian sides were involved.
Bayern Munich pulled out of the 1974 decider against Independiente, meaning Atlético were invited by UEFA to take their place and a 2-0 win at the Calderón with goals from Javier Irureta (later better known for his time as manager of Depor) and Rubén Ayala helped them overturn a 1-0 first leg defeat and be crowned the “champions of the world”.
One thing I noticed from this room, the replica La Liga trophies that clubs get to keep are significantly smaller than the real thing – which of course, after the dramatic 2020/21 season, sits pride of place in this display cabinet, resplendent in red and white ribbons.
Special Exhibition: El Doblete
This year marks 25 years since arguably Atlético’s greatest season – the 1995/96 campaign where they won the domestic double. So until the end of August 2021, the room reserved for special exhibitions has been given over to El Doblete.
Atlético had only just avoided relegation in the 1994/95 season so their eventual title triumph was a massive shock, but considering they held top spot for all but three weeks of the season, could hardly be described as undeserved.
The glass cases include the shirts of the key players from that season, Kiko, José Luís Caminero, Lubo Penev and a certain Diego Pablo Simeone (whatever happened to him?) and a tracksuit worn by manager Radomir Antić
Various other items are featured, including newspaper front pages, programmes, players’ registration cards and completed sticker albums and the screen on the wall plays key moments from the double-winning season. While I was there it seemed to be playing the entire Copa del Rey Final win over Barcelona – which was won by an extra time goal from Milinko Pantić.
So that was Territorio Atleti – an excellent way for me to spend just over an hour as I waited for my vaccination appointment – and an excellent way for any visitors to get a feel of the Atlético experience.
The addition of the museum, as well as a number of restaurants has made the stadium much more appealing as a location to visit during the week.
More than anything, visiting the museum has me looking forward to going back for a game sometime in the 2021/22 season. It might take a while, current projections suggest that we might not be back to full capacity stadiums until the second half of the season, but it will be worth the wait!