Hertha Berlin are one of the big names in German football, if not always the most successful. But there are extra special reasons for going to watch them play live.
For a start, they are based in an incredibly vibrant and historic city, the capital of Germany, that is worth a weekend stay or longer.
And Hertha’s home, Berlin Olympiastadion, is one of the most recognised, and most iconic, in the world.
Visit the stadium for a match and it is an awesome sight. Arriving from the east, the two giant columns are as striking a stadium gateway as you are ever likely to see. Walk up across the open plaza towards the stadium, packed on matchdays, and the architecture you see remains unmistakably 1930s – brick built and imposingly authoritarian.
The stadium’s story began when the German Nazi Government decided the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were their ideal propaganda platform. The Olympiastadion was created with a vast capacity of 110,000. That included a special stand for Hitler and his officials – giving them the perfect view as the black athletic Jesse Owens sprinted and jumped to four Olympic golds.
The stadium was chosen as a venue for the 1974 World Cup and hosted group matches involving both the hosts and eventual winners, West Germany, and ironically East Germany.
When Germany was reunified, there was a debate on what to do with a stadium with such a chequered history. However, when Germany won the rights to host the 2006 World Cup it was given a new lease of life, and was chosen to host the final.
The renovation was dramatic with the sweeping roof extended, leaving just a space at one end, the Marathon Arch, where the Olympic Flame once stood. The permanent capacity of the stadium now is 74,475,649 – the largest all seated capacity in Germany.
Download a free Event Guide to Hertha Berlin and the Olympiastadion at EventGuides.Com!
Hertha Berlin have had many highs and lows over the years, and the 20th Century politics of Germany have not helped.
Hertha were the club left stranded when the Berlin Wall closed around them in 1961. Before then they had enjoyed support from all over the city, but a huge number of their supporters were physically unable to see them.
In the early 1960s Hertha played their home games at Stadion am Gesundbrunnen, close enough to the wall for the sound of the crowd to be heard on the other side. Many exiled Hertha fans gathered there on matchdays to listen out for the cheers.
There have been no national league titles for Hertha since the early 1930s, but they did finish second behind Borussia Möonchengladbach in 1975. They also recorded a semi-final appearance in the UEFA Cup in 1979, going out to Red Star Belgrade on away goals.
Grim days were to follow. Berlin was left as Europe’s only major capital city without a top flight side for seasons on end as Hertha spent most of the 1980s and 90s in the second division.
Since then there have been more highs and lows. On the positive side, there have been two German League Cup successes, one journey into the UEFA Champions League and a succession of UEFA Cup/ Europa League appearances.
There is no doubt that Hertha have the stadium, and a city with potentially enough support, to be a major Bundesliga player. And, as one of just two main teams in a giant city of a reunified country, the future looks rosy.
Watch Hertha Berlin live! Book it at Nickes.Com!
Pictures from Friedrich Busam & Olympiastadion Berlin and Germany Travel.