16th of November 2003 will go down in history as the day in which the greatest player in football’s history, Lionel Messi, made his debut (Editor’s note: treasonous comments to make here in Portugal; Cristiano Ronaldo is clearly the best).
However, here in Porto it was also an important milestone for the city. For it was also the debut of FC Porto’s new stadium, Estádio do Dragão. The translation of which is possibly the most intimidating location of all of football: the Stadium of the Dragon. This name comes from the team’s nickname the Dragons (Os Dragões), which is derived from the city’s emblem. The match between Porto and Barcelona finished in a 2-0 victory for the hosts, the first of many memorable victories!
The stadium was built for the 2004 European Championships which were held across the country. It replaced the club’s older stadium Antas which had been their home since 1952. They did not have far to go though, the stadium being around the corner from each other. It was designed by Portuguese architect Manuel Salgado. It hosted 5 of the games at the European Championships including the opening game, an embarrassing Portuguese defeat to minnows Greece. That result was repeated a month later when Greece shockingly won the Championship against the hosts a month later in Lisboa. Probably best to avoid the issue entirely during your visit to Porto!
The stadium is also used for other events such as fashion shows and also concerts. Some of the legendary acts to have played include Deep Purple, Rolling Stones and Muse. One Direction also had a concert.
In the 299 games played in the stadium Porto fans have seen an incredible 621 goals. Of those goals that will last the longest in the minds of Portistas are the 5 unanswered in the destruction of their bitter rivals, Benfica (from Lisbon), on the 7th of November 2010! If one wants to view the stadium, the countless trophies won through the years and the interesting history of the club itself it is possible to do a tour, although it is located a little bit out of the city.
As we say here Porto é uma Nação (Porto is a nation)! The club is just one of the many reasons the people of the city love Porto. To discover the many others why not sign up to one of Walking Tours with City Lovers Tours?