Passion and History at San Mamés Stadium

From Humble Beginnings to Football Royalty

Football has long been a staple in Bilbao. Due to its immense popularity, the atmosphere in the city on the days of important matches is charged with anticipation.

The Athletic Club, often known as “the lions,” was established in 1898, when the sport was only beginning to gain popularity thanks to the efforts of its British designers.

San Mamés Stadium, as it is known now, is the latest in a long series of stadiums that have been renamed “The Cathedral” by fans since the club’s inception. The stadium was designed with passionate Bilbao fans in mind, who are known for getting down on the pitch to cheer for their side and generate a remarkable atmosphere.

After four years of construction beside the old pitch, the new San Mamés facility, which can accommodate 53,000 spectators, opened in August 2014. Its central location in the city means that the excitement of game days can be felt in all of the surrounding streets, clubs, and plazas, turning them into a show that is well worth seeing.

San Mamés Stadium
San Mamés Stadium

History of San Mamés Stadium

Athlétic’s ancient stadium, also called Estadio San Mamés, supported the team for over a century but lacked the amenities of newer stadiums.

In 2004, the first designs were drawn up for a new stadium, and by the end of 2006, the first contracts had been signed. In 2009, Athletic unveiled their finalized stadium plans, and by late 2010, construction had begun.

On September 16, 2013, Athlétic and Celta de Vigo played the first league game at the brand-new Estadio San Mames and won (3-2).

In order to allow Athletic to continue playing home games at the old San Mamés while the new stadium was being built, only three-quarters of the stadium had been finished at that time. The remaining end was worked on throughout the 2013–14 season and was finished in time for the 2014–15 season.

Due to severe constraints in Basque Country because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Estadio San Mames was replaced by Estadio La Cartuja in Seville as one of the playing locations for the Euro 2020 Championships.

View of San Mamés Stadium
View of San Mamés Stadium

How to get to San Mamés Stadium?

Central Bilbao is where you’ll find Estadiom San Mamés. Located about 2 km east of Bilbao’s historic district, the stadium is nonetheless within easy walking distance of the city’s primary commercial districts and the world-famous Guggenheim Museum.

Most of Bilbao’s downtown and the city’s two main train terminals are within a half-hour’s walk of the stadium. You can get to the stadium by heading west from the Gran Via retail district.

The stadium is also accessible via the metro. The stadium is accessible by both of Bilbao’s tube lines. Get on the metro at either the Casco Viejo old town station or the Abando train station and ride to the San Mames stop.

You may take the tram (Euskotran) from the Guggenheim to go to the stadium. This tram route not only goes by the historic district and railroad terminals but also follows the course of the Nervión River.

Driving directions from the A-8 highway to the stadium are straightforward. To get to Bilbao, get out at exit 117 and head north on Avenida Sabino Arnana. About 600 yards later, you’ll see the stadium on your left, one block away.

San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao
San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao


To the west of the downtown area, the riverfront home of local team Athletic Bilbao has a state-of-the-art football stadium. It opened in 2013 and is the largest stadium in the Basque Country, with a capacity of 53,289 people. The San Mamés subway stop is a short distance away from this fascinating stadium.

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