(The Canadian Press)

WORLD CUP: Sun never sets in a St. Petersburg summer

Read up on one of Russia’s 11 host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, starting June 14

Known as Russia’s “Window on Europe,” St. Petersburg is a city like no other.

Imperial palaces line its network of canals, its stadium looks like a spaceship and some days the sun never sets. St. Petersburg is so far north that the last three weeks of June are “White Nights,” with the sky remaining light 24 hours a day.

Here’s what you need to know about one of the 11 World Cup host cities in Russia:

THE STADIUM

The vast St. Petersburg Stadium was a headache for the Russian government, taking a decade to build as costs soared to 43 billion rubles ($670 million). Worker deaths and corruption scandals marred the project.

The result is Zenit St. Petersburg’s new 67,000-seat home, which resembles a spaceship parked on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Fans should leave plenty of time to get there, since it’s a 25-minute walk from the nearest subway station.

WHAT TO KNOW

St. Petersburg’s grandeur is all down to the vision of one man.

Obsessed with trying to modernize his country, the 18th-century Czar Peter the Great decreed a new capital would be built from scratch in a swamp by the Baltic Sea. The idea was to create a metropolis as a centre for European technology and ideas to enter Russia, to force the Russian nobility to adopt European traditions, and to display the glory of Peter’s empire.

Soviet revolutionaries later moved the capital back to Moscow, but locals still see St. Petersburg as Russia’s cultural capital.

READ MORE: FIFA to probe Russian racism against France players

WHAT TO DO

The grand avenue of Nevsky Prospekt is St. Petersburg’s heart, running past parks, theatres and shops to the opulent Palace Square. That’s where Bolshevik revolutionaries took power in 1917 by seizing the Winter Palace.

Visitors can drink in the city’s beauty with a boat trip through the canals, or see some of the world’s most celebrated art in the famous Hermitage Museum.

St. Petersburg is a city of restaurants and bars, offering everything from fine dining to some of Russia’s best craft beer. At night, the bridges between the city’s islands lift to allow ships to pass — something to bear in mind to avoid being stranded on a night out.

WHAT TO WATCH

St. Petersburg will host seven World Cup games, starting with the Group B game between Morocco and Iran on June 15.

Russia’s World Cup hopes could be dashed by Mohamed Salah and Egypt in the Group A game on June 19.

Brazil plays Costa Rica in Group E on June 22, followed by Argentina taking on Nigeria in Group D on June 26.

In the knockout stages, St. Petersburg hosts one game in the round of 16, as well as a semifinal and the third-place playoff.

The World Cup kicks off June 14 and runs until July 15.

James Ellingworth, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

Saanich police dog tracks dangerous driver after car ditched in Oak Bay

Man may face charges of dangerous driving and mischief

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read