Olympiastadion

Munich, Germany | C.1972

Photo Credit: Martyn Haworth

Olympiastadion, located in Munich, Germany at the heart of the Olympiapark Munchen, is a stadium built as the main venue for the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Designed by the German architect Ginther Behnisch and the engineer Frei Otto, the lightweight “tent construction” of the Olympiastadion was considered revolutionary for its time. This unique design included large sweeping canopies of acrylic glass stabilized by steel cables that had never been used on a such a massive scale before.

The idea was to imitate the Alps and to set a counterpart to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, held during the Nazi regime. The sweeping and transparent canopy was to symbolize the new, democratic and optimistic Germany. This was also reflected in the official motto: “Die Heiteren Spiele” or “The Cheerful Games”.

The stadium was built between 1968 and 1972 in a massive crater that was formed by bombings Munich endured through World War II. Surprisingly enough, the existing crater cut the time of construction significantly.

With an original capacity of 80,000, the stadium also hosted many major football matches including the 1974 FIFA World Cup Final and the UEFA Euro 1988 Final. Renovations in 2004 reduced capacity by a couple thousand seats, but the Olympiastadion is still the largest stadium of its kind in Germany.

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