The traces of tourists in Madrid reveal that there is a pagan temple that makes them deviate almost five kilometers from the center in a northerly direction, far from the classic itinerary for the culture and history of the capital.
Real Madrid’s stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu, is a powerful attraction for visitors to the city, the most photographed building in the capital, as suggested by maps made with big data, the new data sources that are providing useful information about everything that happens in Madrid.
The 1947 stadium does not stand out for its original architecture and is a symbol that divides football fans in the capital, but thanks to the globalization of the beautiful game it has become a well-known icon from Gaza to New York.
With the renovation, which will begin this summer, Real Madrid will seek to enhance its iconic character by giving it a unique and avant-garde façade, in the same way as other clubs that have made spectacular renovations to their stadiums such as the Allianz Arena of Bayern Munich or the legendary Wembley in London.
The stadium competes in popularity with the city center, as shown, for example, by several recent analysis of the Department of Human Geography at the Complutense University, directed by Javier Gutiérrez. The Bernabéu appears with a special intensity in its heat maps based on the information published by tourists on the social networks Panoramio (photos), Foursquare (consumption) and Twitter.
The highest concentrations of photos are produced in the historic center, the Madrid stadium, the Las Ventas bullring and the new skyscrapers of La Castellana, according to a 2015 analysis For which 270,344 images of Madrid were analyzed on Panoramio (43,296 uploaded by tourists). Among tourists, the Bernabéu stands out as the most photographed place, well above the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol or the Prado Museum, although photos are prohibited inside the latter.
The researchers discovered a large concentration of photos of Madrilenians along the river. In this area the only hot spot for tourists was the old Atlético de Madrid stadium, the Vicente Calderón. The experts used Panoramio, a network owned by Google that died in 2016, because it was more “friendly” than Instagram by allowing greater access to its data. The criteria used to determine whether the information came from a tourist or a neighbor of Madrid was the period during which each user had taken the photos: if their activity was less than a month, the photos or tweets were attributed to tourists.
Soccer is a tourist engine in other cities too. Researchers from the Complutense discovered in Panoramio that in other cities in Europe with large football clubs, stadiums were also highly photographed, such as the Nou Camp in Barcelona; Stamford Bridge or Emirates, the stadiums of Londoners Chelsea and Arsenal; the Parc des Princes, from Paris Saint-Germain.
These sports buildings are considered the new cathedrals of the 21st century and have an emblematic sense. “We expected to find many photos of the Royal Palace, the Temple of Debod or the Cibeles, but not so many of the Bernabéu or the Plaza de Toros,” says Gutiérrez.
Data from Real Madrid itself show that popularity. In five years the number of visitors to the tour of the Bernabéu, from 700,000 season 2012/13 at 1.3 million season 2017/18, according to the annual reports of the white club. These data suggest that one of every ten visitors to Madrid pay to do the tour. Tours cost between € 18 and € 30 and include visits to the pitch, changing rooms or the trophy room. The top five countries of origin for visitors last year were the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
The new sources of big data and the resulting maps are a treasure trove of information for authorities or entrepreneurs. Madrid City Council have had their eyes opened to the untapped potential of the Bernabéu and Azca area. The map with the credit card usage data provided to the City Council by BBVA shows that many arrive at the stadium and leave, says the City Council’s head of tourism, Miguel Sanz. According to the same data source, almost two thirds of foreign spending in 2017 was concentrated in four neighborhoods: Sol (21%), Salamanca (20%), Malasaña (9%) and Chueca (7%).
To boost consumption in the Bernabéu area, the City Council has recently included bars on Calle de Ponzano, parallel to Calle Castellana, in the Gastrofestival program, the event to promote Madrid’s gastronomy that celebrated its tenth anniversary in January.
The remodeling of the Bernabéu, which will last three and a half years and will cost 575 million euros, will mean the creation of new leisure areas and galleries. A steel wrap and a retractable roof will cover the building, depending on the project in which they will participate three teams of architects, L35 from Madrid, GPM from Germany and Ribas & Ribas from Catalonia.
They beat several Pritzker Awards in competition such as Norman Foster or Rafael Moneo. Real Madrid sources point out that they seek to reinforce the building as a tourist attraction in the capital: “It will become a great event for all visitors to our city and that will be good for Real Madrid, but also very importantly for the city of Madrid because it will be one of the main tourist products that Madrid will offer to the world ”.
A global brand
The true explanation for the success of the Bernabéu is not so much in the building, in the architecture of the stadium itself, as in the brand, one of the best known and most powerful in Spain on a global scale, as the dean of the Madrid College of Architects, the urban planner José María Ezquiaga. “It is a sociological rather than an architectural phenomenon. Perhaps with the remodeling that is planned in the stadium, the architecture will be at the height ”, says Ezquiaga.
For now, the Wanda Metropolitano, the stadium that Atlético de Madrid opened in 2017 in the peripheral district of San Blas, has the problem of a scarce culinary offer in its environment. The club also opens its stadium doors to tourists, for a price between 8 and 13 euros, but the visit is not included in the route of the Madrid tourist buses, unlike the Bernabéu. Little by little the Wanda could take off as a tourist destination, especially after the promotion that it will receive on June 1 when it hosts the final of the Champions League.
The popularity of the Bernabéu is a relief for the City Council, which has set itself the objective of decentralizing the flow of tourists, which is saturating certain areas of the center. The city broke a new record last year with 10.2 million visitors. The model to follow is New York and the instruments include the inclusion of alternative areas to the center in series and movies, says Sanz.
To process the sources of big data cities have incorporated into their templates teams of data scientists with an eye on quantifying problems and making decisions about traffic, housing or tourism.
However, not all are advantages. Some of these massive data sources are difficult to access, either because the companies that generate them are not willing to share them with researchers or because they are offered for sale at high prices.
Researchers and authorities regret that there is a lot of potentially useful information that is not open for the use of anyone, for example on the platform for tourist accommodation rental Airbnb or on the social networks Facebook or Instagram. Researchers complain that these platforms with hundreds of millions of users do not allow data to be downloaded from their APIS, the acronym for Application Programming Interface.
The Madrid City Council believes that it is possible to decentralize tourism in Madrid and sees the example of the Santiago Bernabéu as the best proof of this. One of the promotion campaigns of the current government team, Madrid 21 destinations, suggests a point of tourist interest for each district. Among the destinations are some places that have recently gained relevance such as the Quinta de los Molinos park in Suanzes (known for its almond trees in bloom), the Almudena cemetery in Ciudad Lineal, increasingly popular as a concert venue, or the N @ ve de Villaverde, an old elevator factory that is now a center for startups and major technological innovation events. Other destinations will need a little more momentum to start: the Moratalaz park, the Hortaleza silo or the Colonia de la Prensa in Carabanchel.
“The objective is to have more detailed and quantified information,” says Sanz. The General Directorate of Tourism of the City Council has created the Tourist Intelligence Center, a team that uses official data and data purchased from third parties to produce reports and help make decisions.
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