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Real Madrid, the Reyes Del Europa (Kings of Europe) reflect their home city about as well as any sports team can. Their name translates to royalty, and their crest is the crown of the monarchy, a perfect symbol to embody the Spanish capital, as Madrid was once, centuries ago, the seat of the world’s most powerful empire.

Madrid is a city that’s stately, grand, imposing, cosmopolitan and a place, like London and Paris, implicitly tells the visitor “you’re in a former capital of the entire world.” Real Madrid as a football club, El Mejor Palmares Del Mundo (The Best Track Record of the World) is a mirror image of the Spanish monarchy at the height of their empire.

Even their fight song is an aria; listen below:

When you take the Stadium Tour at the Santiago Bernabeu, you experience all of this imagery in spades. Having just toured Madrid’s Royal Palace the previous day, this was a natural transition for me.

I had planned on taking in a game that evening, after all when you travel over 4,000 miles, on a 9 and 1/2 hour flight, of course you want to go see the team that FIFA named the 20th century’s best club.

After all, this is the place where Cristiano Ronaldo, who ESPN named the most famous sports man in the world, plies his trade.

real madrid uefa champions league

However, the game got moved to a different day, with only a couple weeks’ advance notice, and thus, I wasn’t going to be in Madrid as of yet.

(Hey, nothing like waiting until the last minute, to totally derail someone’s plans guys! Especially those coming from halfway around the world!)

Thus, I had to settle for taking the stadium tour instead, which I was told beforehand was pretty awesome.

It does live up to the hype, as you get to sit in the same bench as the players, see their dressing room and ride the virtual team bus, which is something you just have to be there for- it can’t accurately be described.

It is pricey though- 25 Euro (about $30, £22) and no matter when you go, it is crowded. There are more tremendous photo opportunities that you’ll know what to do with, but there are so many people, at almost every turn that it’s far from optimal. Credit to the ballsy fellow who wore a Barcelona jacket to the Estadio Tour though!

Which way are the people shooting- forward, or reverse for selfie? You’ll walk into their shots and someone will walk into yours.

Also, Real Madrid needs to tone down all the forced photo-opps that can only be purchased.

real madrid

Or at least provide a better way to get around them; instead of making you have to struggle to get around them.

Also, like every tour of everything, everywhere, the tour exit is through the gift shop, but here that shop is ginormous and you must go through a couple different levels just to leave.

This kind of over-the-top and crass commercialism is beneath a club like Real Madrid, given their elite level of success and off the charts popularity.

Those are the only drawbacks though. Overall, the visitor gets a one-of-a-kind experience that simply can’t be had anywhere else.

As someone who has had media credentials for three Real Madrid games (preseason friendlies in the United States), I was still star-struck on numerous occasions.

There are so many great photo opportunities here that the visitor really needs to pick and choose only the best. Your Instagram feed will inevitably reflect the regal tradition and history of Real Madrid.

cristiano ronaldo locker

For more pictures of the Real Madrid stadium tour go to this link.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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