There was a time, many years ago, when any self respecting stadium development in Spain could not be called complete without the addition of a tower. This impractical, egotistical appendage was all the rage during the 1940’s, when Franco’s regime and his hand-picked club presidents started to develop new arenas. The inspiration for the building or inclusion of the towers undoubtedly came from the stadia that had been built in Germany and Italy a decade earlier. Whilst the creators & their motives were unquestionably disturbing, when viewed in isolation, these towers were magnificently anachronistic. Serving little purpose but to show-off, many made way when new stands were developed or old grounds demolished. The few that do remain are tucked away in forgotten corners, like an embarrassing relative at a family party, but like our nutty next of kin, they have a story to tell. So here are my six favourite towers, that once stood ahem… proud and prominent across the Iberian Peninsula.
La Coruña - Riazor
Probably the most recognisable stadium tower anywhere in Spain is the Torre de Maratón at Deportivo's Riazor stadium. The original stadium was built in 1944, but the tower itself dates from the late 19th century, when it enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the Riazor beach and beyond. The various incarnations of the stadium incorporated the tower until the present structure was opened in 1998, leaving it stuck rather unceremoniously behind the west stand. You can read more about the Riazor here.
Madrid - Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
This effort from Real Madrid had a very short life-span and few photographs exist. It was situated on the east side of the Nuevo Estadio Chamartin (The stadium was renamed the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in 1955) which comprised of a single tier, due in part to the close proximity of the old Campo de Chamartin. Designed by Luis Alemany Soler and Manuel Munoz Monasterio, this neo-classical tower was demolished in 1953, when the east side was extended to incorporate a second tier. You can see more pictures of the tower and read about the history of the Santiago Bernabéu here.
Cádiz - Estadio Ramon de Carranza
The Torre de Preferencia (or Torre Olímpica) stood at Cádiz's Estadio Ramon de Carranza for nearly 50 years. Built during the 1954-55 season, the stadium finally opened on 3 September 1955. It stood guard over the popular terrace until the end came in 2004 when the first phase of the stadium's redevelopment began. More on the history of the stadium and it's incarnations here.
Castellon - Nou Estadi Castalia
Standing 40 metres in height, the Torre de Maratón de Estadi Castilia dominated the old Estadio Castalia. Opened in November 1944, the horse-shoe shaped stadium served as home to CD Castellón until May 1986. The enclosure was demolished and the current stadium was built at 90 degrees to the old layout. Thankfully, the tower was saved and now stands behind the current main stand. Read more on these two fantastic stadiums here.
Valladolid - Estadio José Zorrilla
Real Valladolid's original Estadio José Zorrilla evolved in a rather piecemeal fashion over the forty-two years it served as their home stadium. An ever present however was the simple neo-classical tower that stood on the east side of the stadium. This was partially obscured when the east side gained a cover in the 1970's. First team fixtures ceased with a move to the new stadium in 1982 and the stadium was finally demolished in 1984. Read more here.
Alzira - Estadio Frente de Juventudes
Alzira's absurdly grandiose Estadio Frente de Juventudes was home to UD Alzira from 1946 to 1973. Not content with one tower, the stadium's only significant stand had not one, but three towers. Given the fact that I'm easily impressed by quantity and that this is the only photograph I've ever seen of the stand, makes it my favourite! Read all about it and its successor here.