15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World

From the original stadiums of Ancient Greece to the hypermodern stadiums of today, here are 15 great stadiums from around the world and throughout time.

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
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The stadium has been a place of worship for sports fans since antiquity. From the original buildings of antiquity, they have become a defining feature of modern cities.

The following 15 are some of the finest examples of stadiums around the world and throughout time.

This list is in no particular order and is far from exhaustive.

The Origins of the Word 'Stadium'

A stadium is defined as:-

"an enclosure that combines broad space for athletic games and other exhibitions with large seating capacity for spectators." - Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The term stadium is derived from the Greek unit of measurement, the stade.

This is the distance that was covered in the Greek footraces of old and measures around 180 meters. When the original Olympic Games were held at Olympia in Ancient Greece one stade was the exact length of the track for footrace events. 

It would thus become associated with both the distance and place where the race was run. Stadiums have become a significant component of modern architecture and sports.

1. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: The Flavian Amphitheatre

Stadium Location: Just East of the Ancient Roman Forum, Rome

When the stadium was built: 72 AD

Architect (if known): Lost to time

Construction: Built over two main phases, the Colosseum is built primarily of Roman concrete and dressed stone/brick. It would have originally had a complex mast assembly to the fourth floor to extend and withdraw a large awning to protect spectators from the oppressive heat of the sun. 

Built or commissioned by (if known): Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian Dynasty

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Flavian Amphitheater, now commonly-called the Colosseum, is probably the most famous of all stadiums around the world. When it was complete the Colosseum had 80 arched entrances that allowed access to 55, 000 spectators

For its time, the stadium was enormous and comprised of an ellipse shape 188 meters long by 156 meters wide

2. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Olympiastadion

Stadium Location: Berlin, Germany

When the stadium was built: Originally 1936, massively refurbished in 1972

Architect (if known): Albert Speer ('Architect of the Devil')

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Construction: Concrete and steel frame

Built or commissioned by (if known): The National Socialist Party (NAZI)

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: Built between 1934 and 1936, the Olympiastadion has an enormous 70,000+ capacity and enormous sweeping acrylic-glass canopy. It was originally constructed to host the historically infamous 1936 Olympic Games.

The building was bombed during WW2 and fully restored post-war. The stadium later underwent a massive renovation between 1972 and 1973 in preparation for the 1974 World Cup. 

Notes: It is best known for its hosting of the 1936 Olympic Games where four black American athletes were awarded gold medals. This was in direct contradiction of Adolf Hitler's propaganda ambitions for the games. 

These were also the first games to be broadcast live. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Tobi87/Wikimedia Commons

3. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Bird's Nest Stadium

Stadium Location: Beijing, China

When the stadium was built: 2008

Architect (if known): Herzog & de Meuron and artist Ai Weiwei, Arup, and China Architecture Design & Research Group

Construction: Reinforced concrete internal structure and steel frame external facade

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Built or commissioned by (if known): People's Republic of China

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Bird's Nest Stadium's most notable feature is its iconic, approximately 42,000-ton steel frame exterior structure. This was designed to ostensibly resemble Chinese ceramics with a bird's nest feel.

The entire structure is separated from the main internal stadium structure and tends to be impressively light at night.  

Notes: The stadium has a seating capacity of between 80 and 91 thousand and was designed to last at least a century. It measures 330 meters long and 220 meters wide and stands at 69.2 meters tall

It is, apparently, designed to be able to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Jorge Láscar/Wikimedia Commons

4. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Camp Nou

Stadium Location: Barcelona, Spain

When the stadium was built: 1950's (1957 Inauguration)

Architect (if known): Francesc Mitjans Miró/Josep Soteras Mauri/Lorenzo García Barbón

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel frame construction

Built or commissioned by (if known): FC Barcelona/INGAR SA

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: It is Europe's biggest stadium and the world's second-biggest

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Notes: Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe and has a total capacity of just under 10,000. Its seating capacity also makes it the second largest in the world. 

It was designed by Francesc Mitjans Miró, cousin of Miró-Sans, and Josep Soteras Mauri, with the collaboration of Lorenzo García Barbón.

The stadium underwent various extensions during the 1980's and 1990's to increase its seating capacity with ancillary facilities, like a museum added in 1984

It is still home to FC Barcelona today.

A new Camp Nou building is currently in development and will be a homage to the historical and well-loved building. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
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5. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: FNB Stadium/Soccer City

Stadium Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

When the stadium was built: 1989/2010 (refurb)

Architect (if known): Boogertman & Partners, HOK Sport

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel frame construction

Built or commissioned by (if known): Construction: Grinaker-LTA/ BAM International

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: Soccer City is the largest stadium on the African Continent and is strategically located next to an old gold mine (the historic source of the city's wealth). It also designed to resemble a piece of African pottery.

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Notes: It has a seating capacity of just under 95,000, formerly known as Soccer City is now officially called the First National Bank (FNB) Stadium.

The stadium is also known by its nickname "The Calabash" because of its resemblance to an African pot or gourd. It was also where Nelson Mandela made his first speech in Johannesburg after he was first released from jail in 1990.

It was also the site of a memorial service to him in December 2013. It also hosted the 2010 FIFA world cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
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6. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Wembley

Stadium Location: London, England

When the stadium was built: 2007 (new stadium) - 1923 (original)

Architect (if known): HOK Sport and Foster and Partners/Sir Norman Foster and Rod Sheard

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel frame construction

Built or commissioned by (if known): The Sports Council/Multiplex

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: Wembley has a partially retractable roof and iconic 134 meter-high arch

Notes: With a seating capacity of around 90,000 Wembley is Europe's second largest stadium. The building has a total circumference of 1km and encloses around 4 million cubic meters within its walls and roof.

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The original stadium was built in 1923 and was the centerpiece of the British Empire Exhibition. It cost around £750,000 to build and 250,000 tons of clay was excavated to build the reinforced concrete and steel stadium. 

The original stadium was demolished in 2002, despite its Grade II listed status.

The new stadium was opened in 2007 and its distinguishing arch, that towers over the North Stand, supports the North Roof and 60% of the South Roof. The roof structure cannot completely close but does cover every seat in the stadium. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Matt Brown/Wikimedia Commons

7. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: The Float at Marina Bay

Stadium Location: Marina Bay, Singapore

When the stadium was built: 2007

Architect (if known): Defence Science and Technology Agency

Construction: Steel frame construction/Pontoons. The building's foundations comprise six pylons anchored to the marina seabed. 

Built or commissioned by (if known): Singapore Sports Council

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Float in Singapore is the world's largest floating stage, is made entirely of steel and measures 120 meters long and 83 meters wide.

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Notes: With a seating capacity of around 30,000, the Float at Marina Bay is the located in the waters of the Marina reservoir in Singapore. The platform, made completely of steel, is able to bear 1070 tonnes.

It was originally commissioned to serve as a temporary replacement for the Singapore National Stadium. It is roughly the size of a football pitch and has been used sparingly since its completion in 2007.

The construction has some innovative features too such as an internal drainage system, cabling structures, and lightning rods. 

Originally only intended to be a temporary structure it is planned to redevelop the stage into a permanent space to commemorate National Service. For this reason, it is intended to rename it NS Square where it will serve as the main venue for future National Day Parades. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Waycool27/Wikimedia Commons

8. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: AT & T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium)

Stadium Location: Arlington, Texas

When the stadium was built: Opened in 2009

Architect (if known): HKS Incorporated

Construction: Steel frame. It cost an estimated 1.15 Billion Dollars to build making it the worlds most expensive sports venues to ever built. 

Built or commissioned by (if known): City of Arlington/Blue Star Development/Jack Hill

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The roof is supported by a pair of 91-meter tall arches that span the entire length of the stadium dome. It was designed by structural engineering firm Walter P Moore and the systems were implemented by mechanization consultants Uni-Systems.

It is one of the largest domed sports structures in the world and has the largest operable glass doors at 55 meters wide by 37 meters high. The internal area of the building is around 3 million square feet, (914,400 meters squared)

Notes: The stadium can seat 80.000 which makes it the fifth largest stadium in the NFL. It also has one of the world's largest high definition video screens in the world. 

Its impressive roof, weighing in at 14000 tons, is fully retractable and able to open or close in less than 12 minutes. Apart from its more than 3,000 LCD displays it also sports a world-class contemporary art collection inside. 

It serves as the home to of the Dallas Cowboys and can be used for a variety of activities from concerts to basketball games to rodeos and many more. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Nicole Cordeiro/Wikimedia Commons

9. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Panathenaic Stadium

Stadium Location: Athens, Greece

When the stadium was built: 1896

Architect (if known): Anastasios Metaxas

Construction: Solid marble construction

Built or commissioned by (if known): The Hellenic Olympic Committee

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Panathenaic Stadium was a rebuilt version of an original racecourse built in 330BC. Excavations during the 1830's uncovered some of its marble with the entire structure rebuilt and completed in time for the opening ceremony in 1896

Because of its construction, it is still the only stadium built entirely out of marble. 

Notes: During the inaugural modern Olympic games U.S. Triple jumper James Connolly managed to win the first Olympic medal in more than 1,500 years. The current incarnation of the stadium has a seating capacity of 80,000.

The original stadium was built around 330 BC by the Athenian Statesman Lykourgos and was rebuilt in 144 AD by the Athenian Roman Herodes Atticus to have a seating capacity of 50,000. After the 4th Century AD it was largely abandoned.

After being rebuilt in 1896 the stadium was used again for part of the 2004 Olympics and is the finishing point for the annual Athens Classic Marathon. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Badseed/Wikimedia Commons

10. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Michigan Stadium

Stadium Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

When the stadium was built: 1927

Architect (if known): Bernard L. Green/HNTB (2010)

Construction: Various - including brick and block, reinforced concrete and steel frame.

Built or commissioned by (if known): Construction: University of Michigan/James Leck Company

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: Michigan Stadium is the second largest stadium in the world and is the largest in the United States. It has an official seating capacity of 107,601 but has hosted crowds as big as 115,000.

Notes: Although originally built in 1927 it has undergone various stages of expansion over the years in 1928, 1949, 1956, 1973, 1992, 1998, and 2010.

It is home to the Michigan Wolverines Football Club and has served as the home of Michigan Wolverines hockey and lacrosse teams in the past and present. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: AndrewHorne/Wikimedia Commons

11. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Kaohsiung National Stadium

Stadium Location: Zuoying District, Taiwan

When the stadium was built: 2009

Architect (if known): Toyo Ito (Pritzker Prize-winning architect)

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel frame.

Built or commissioned by (if known): Unknown

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: Apart from its unique design the stadium is pretty much self-sufficient from its solar PV array. The stadium's roofs comprise of almost 6.5 thousand scale-like aluminum plates of which roughly 4.5 K house solar panels. 

This made it the first stadium in the world to be significantly powered by solar power.

This array is able to yield 1.1 million kWh of solar energy per annum. It also won Taiwan's first LEED gold-level green building smashing 9 standards including soil water content, biodiversity, and CO2 reduction. 

Notes: The semi-spiral form of the stadium is unique and thought to be symbolic of a dragon. With its 55,000 seat capacity, it is Taiwan's largest stadium. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Peellden/Wikimedia Commons

12. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Allianz Arena

Stadium Location: Munich, Germany

When the stadium was built: 2005

Architect (if known): Chief Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel frame clad in inflated ETFE foil panels

Built or commissioned by (if known): Alpine Bau and HVB

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Allianz Arena's most notable feature is its array of inflated ETFE foil panels. Each and every single one can be independently illuminated in shades of red, blue or white. 

Apparently, despite this functionality, local authorities have requested that only single color-schemes be used as the may be distracting for drivers. Previous collisions on the nearby A9 Autobahn are thought to have been caused by previous shifting displays.

Notes: The stadium was designed purely for use as a football stadium and is, undoubtedly, architectural unique in the world. The entire facility was constructed in under three years with the foundation stone laid on the 1st October 2002

The entire project was completed in less than 340 Million Euros and the stadium has a total seating capacity of 75,000. 

13. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: The Ericson Globe

Stadium Location: Stockholm, Sweden

When the stadium was built: 1989

Architect (if known): Lars Vretblad and Svante Berg

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel frame

Built or commissioned by (if known): City of Stockholm

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Ericsson Globe's most notable feature itself. It is the largest hemispherical building on Earth and was built in less than two and half years. 

It has a diameter of 110 meters and an inner height of 85 meters. The building's design was to represent the sun within the Sweden Solar System (the world's largest scale model of the solar system). 

Notes: The globe was inaugurated in February 1989 and was later renamed the Ericsson Globe when it was acquired by the Swedish Telecommunications giant Ericsson. 

Today it mainly used for ice hockey and has a seating capacity of 13,850

On the outside of the globe is the Skyview inclined elevator. This transports visitors to the top of the arena in order to get an unobstructed view of Stockholm. It comprises two spherical gondolas each with a seating capacity of 16 passengers. 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Fredrik Posse/Wikimedia Commons

14. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: Olympic Stadium

Stadium Location: Montreal, Canada

When the stadium was built: 1987

Architect (if known): French Architect Roger Taillibert

Construction: Reinforced concrete and steel

Built or commissioned by (if known): The Government of Quebec

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Olympic Stadium, or "Big O", is Canada's biggest stadium by seating capacity. It has, in the past, been dubbed a masterpiece of "organic modern architecture.

French Architect Roger Taillibert wanted the stadium to look and feel organic and ostensibly resemble vertebrae, sinew, and tentacles whilst also preserving the distinctive features of architectural modernism.

Its observation tower stands at 165 meters making it the world's tallest inclined structure. 

Notes: Its nickname, the "Big O" is a reference to its characteristic roof design. It was originally built for the 1976 Olympic Games but faced heavy delays and was opened partially complete in 1976.

After the conclusion of the Olympics artificial turf was laid within the stadium to allow it to be used for baseball and football teams. It currently serves as a multipurpose facility for special events with a seating capacity of just over 56,000. 

It wasn't finished until 1987 at the ballooned cost of 1.47 Billion Canadian Dollars (it was originally estimated to cost 122 Canadian Dollars). This discrepancy in cost has also earned the stadium its other nickname the "Big Owe". 

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Acarpentier/Wikimedia Commons

15. Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums: The Water Cube

Stadium Location: Beijing, China

When the stadium was built: 2008 

Architect (if known): PTW Architects, CCDI, Arup, and CSCEC

Construction:  Steel frame and ETFE "pillow" facade

Built or commissioned by (if known): The People's Republic of China

Standout/Interesting engineering feature: The Water Cube's standout feature is its distinct and bold cuboidal form. It was one of the flagship building for the 2008 Olympic Games and has a total capacity of 17,000.

Apart from its shape, the exterior design of the building is also highly distinctive. It comprises of an intricate bubble pattern made from about 4 thousand ETFE "pillow" sections. 

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Top 10 Largest Stadiums In the World by Capacity

This material is a see-through polymer that can transmit more light than glass. The sheer scale of the building makes it the world's biggest ETFE-shelled building in the world.

ETFE also helps reduce energy costs for the building by as much as 30% compared to the like-for-like use of glass.

Notes: The building was completed in time for the opening of the Olympics in 2008 and costs a total of $140 million. It was host to over 24 swimming world records being set during the tournament and has also received great praise from the architectural world. 

After the conclusion of the Olympics, 'The Cube" has redesigned to contain numerous water rides and slides, a wave pool, and spa areas.

15 of the Most Impressive and Coolest Stadiums Around the World
Source: Charlie fong/Wikimedia Commons
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