Portugal is a football nation that is almost more enthusiastic about its teams than many other countries are. Anyone who visits Porto without having had contact with the city’s most famous club and the Estádio do Dragão has missed out.
We were drawn to FC Porto’s venue, the Estádio do Dragão, not to watch a football match, but to visit the FC Porto Museum and take part in a stadium tour.
Estádio do Dragão
The Dragon Stadium owes its name not to the football players, but to the unique design of architect Manuel Salgoda. If you look at the stadium from a bird’s eye view, the transparent roof made of polycarbonate panels is supposed to remind you of the back of a dragon.
In November 2003, the new stadium was opened and since then it has been used not only for FC Porto’s home games, but also for concerts and other major events.
On non-match days, it is possible to take part in a guided stadium tour. The tours are offered at certain times and are conducted in Portuguese and English. I took the German-language audio guide and can only recommend it. We were shown around by a young woman who hardly told us anything about the stadium or how to use it. The audio guide was much more interesting and revealed some details. However, I have to say that I had the feeling that the other visitors were only interested in taking pictures.
Stadiumtour Estádio do Dragão
The tour starts in the entrance hall of the museum. You take the stylish FC Porto lift to the parking area around the stadium core. The dreary path along the cars has been “brightened up” with huge pictures. Then you reach a “sightseeing point”: the bus park.
There is space for two coaches in a special car park. One of the parking spaces is used by the FC Porto bus, while the other parking space is available to the visiting team. To ensure that the players immediately recognise where they are, the area is visually designed accordingly.
From there, the players go directly to the dressing rooms. You can’t visit the FC Porto dressing room, but if you use the audio guide, you can take a little virtual tour. We were taken to the visiting team’s dressing room. Here you could have a look at the cold bath, the massage bench,…. Very interesting, the visual presence of the home club was repeated here as well. Not only the club logo, but also a ceiling picture with the profiles of some of the players make sure that the opponent knows exactly who he is dealing with.
During the tour, you are also taken to the room used for the press conferences and to the points where the player interviews are conducted. The walkway that takes the players to the sacred turf also brought us to the edge of the pitch. We were told several times that it was forbidden to step on the grass, but we were able to watch the grass being tended and anyone who wanted to could take a seat on the coach’s bench.
However, I found it much more interesting to look at the dimensions of the stadium. 50,033 spectators can watch the matches here. There are a total of 1176 business seats, 194 press seats and 104 seats for the disabled. The roof of the stadium is above the main and opposite stands and ends with the top tiers. The sides behind the goals are not as high, there is only one tier here. Between the roof and the seats, the space is open and allows a view of the city. The disadvantage here, besides the back-goal view, the roof hardly protects against rain.
Huge screens stand in the corners of the stadium. During our visit, they were turned outwards and showed advertisements. During football matches, they are turned towards the pitch and show the game and match scenes.
From the edge of the pitch, we went to the last viewing point, the president’s box. The view of the stadium from these seats is really great and ideal for taking photos. I found the box itself rather unspectacular.
The tour ends where it began, in the entrance hall of the museum.
Stadiumtour Estádio do Dragão and Museum PC Porto booking
FC Porto Museum
We visited the museum before the stadium tour. Now, in retrospect, I understand the look on the woman’s face at the ticket office when she told us that the stadium tour would start in 45 minutes and I said that we would easily make it through the museum. It was close and we really had to hurry – the museum is huge and extends over 2 floors. For true football fans and FC Porto lovers, it is definitely a dream come true!
Football is not our sport, but nevertheless we naturally know the names of the big European teams. FC Porto is certainly one of the most famous clubs in Europe. The club’s museum, which opened in 2013, is one of the most popular sights in Porto.
The museum occupies an area of almost 8 000 square metres under the east stand of the Estádio do Dragão. There are 27 thematic areas on display. One set of themes, with which the exhibition also begins, is the founding of the club.
On 28 September 1893, the club was founded as Football Club do Porto. António Nicolau d’Almeida, a wine merchant from Porto who had become acquainted with the sport during his travels to England, played a decisive role. D’Almeida had to reduce his commitment to the club quite quickly. His fiancée found the sport too rough and violent. After d’Almeida’s departure, the club initially went quiet. It was not until twelve years later, in 1906, that José Monteiro da Costa and his assistant developed the club further. In August 1906, the club was renamed FC Porto. This offered the opportunity to create other departments, such as basketball, hockey, athletics, cricket, boxing and swimming.
Club Museum at the Dragon Stadium
The themed areas in the FC Porto Museum have strong interactive and technological components. There is a lot to see and, above all, to hear. There are loud commentaries on football scenes everywhere, pictures of the club are shown and (for me it was too loud) you could hear something about the club and its history in Portuguese. (Tip: the audio guide is excellent at explaining what it’s all about, even for those unfamiliar with football). I felt that the exhibits in the exhibition were somewhat lost in the background. The many different trophies that the club has won in the course of its history are well worth seeing. They are beautifully illuminated in glass cases and are labelled with information about the year, title, etc.
The FC Porto museum also devotes space to the most successful and popular players and coaches. For example, there is a large bus in the museum where numerous player figures sit and others stand on the roof and celebrate. Here you can sit on the bench in the bus next to the stars and take a selfie.
The theme of football dominates the museum’s exhibition. There are a few areas where the other club sections are presented. Of course, there is also a fan shop, which was very busy during our visit and from which fans carried home quite a few souvenirs of their favourite team.
I enjoyed the visit even without being a fan of the club. The exhibition is modern and varied. The multimedia presentation gives the visitor a stadium feeling and encourages him or her to want to experience this feeling live.
Via Futebol Clube do Porto – Estádio do Dragão,
4350-415 Porto, Portugal
The stadium can be reached with lines A, B, C and E of the Metro do Porto. The station is called Estádio do Dragão.
In addition, buses 401 and 806 run to the Estádio do Dragão.
Monday: 14:30 – 19 h
Tuesday – Sunday: 10-19 h
Closed: 25.12. and on 1.1., Easter, St. John’s Day (local holiday) in the morning. On 24 and 31 December the museum is open from 10 am – 4 pm.
Monday: 3, 4, 5 p.m.
Tuesday – Sunday: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 hrs.
Stadium tours are not available on match days, on the eve of UEFA matches and on days when major events are taking place on the pitch.
Stadium tours are subject to cancellation or change without notice.
There is a maximum number of participants for the stadium tours.
Opening hours Fanshop:
Monday – Sunday: 10-19 h
Museum + Stadium Tour
The audio guides / TourApp must be paid for separately.