The oldest club in professional football in the Netherlands is Sparta, founded in 1888 as RC&FC Sparta. In 1892 they played in the second division. Sparta starts promoting the matches in the newspapers and as a result, sometimes 1500 people watching the game. In 1909 Sparta won the Dutch Championship and repeated this in 1911, 1912. 1913 and 1915. In 1916 Sparta Rotterdam starts playing in the district Spangen in the stadium which is still known as Het Kasteel, The Castle. In 1958 Sparta won the KNVB Cup, and in 1959 they become the National Champion of the Netherlands in professional football. The last time that Sparta won a championship was in 2016, the First Division.
That Sparta is a big club is shown by the fact that they have participated in European competitions several times. Europacup I in 59/60, Europacup II in 62/63, 66/67 and 71/72, UEFA Cup in 83/84 and 85/86 and the Intertoto Cup in 1967, 1975 and 1994.
Most football stadiums do have a nickname, but Het Kasteel is probably the best-known name of a stadium in the Netherlands. Since Sparta was the first Dutch club to play in Great Britain and also the first Dutch club to play soccer in China, both the club and the stadium are known abroad. Football fans from abroad still want to come to Rotterdam to visit the Sparta Museum and watch a game.
A visit to the museum goes hand in hand with a guided tour of the Castle. Former players sometimes do this tour, but other guides are real Sparta people and can tell the beautiful stories of the Red and White club.
Around the Sparta Museum
Not far from the Castle is the Van Nelle Factory, the former tobacco factory, is now a business centre, conference centre and is part of BV Ontwerpfabriek. Because of the beautiful architecture, the building is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Perhaps Rotterdam’s most famous attraction; Blijdorp Zoo, lies on the other side of the canal, the Delfshavense Schie. This Zoo is divided into parts of the world where people can see the accompanying animals. Visiting this Zoo is a must for people who have never been there. Many people who did attend the Blijdorp Zoo regularly revisit the Zoo.
If you want to see more football history, you can also visit the Feyenoord Museum, in their home stadion De Kuip.