(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

UPDATE: One dead, two in hospital after Highway 1 crash near Bridal Falls

Closure expected to last hours, while drivers are told to take detours

B.C. Ferries cancels Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen sailings over propulsion problem

11:00 ferry now good to go, but lines anticipated

‘It’s a very real and acute issue:’ agriculture expert on food insecurity in Hope

New food and agriculture plan presented to public Tuesday

27 years of supporting victims and survivors of crime and trauma

Marianne Brueckert with Victim Services says it is a gift to work with survivors of crime, tragedy

VIDEO: Othello Tunnels open for season

Domestic and foreign tourists already filling park trail

Wildfire sparked north of Merritt, estimated 8 hectares

BC Wildfire Service is responding to the fire near Chattaway Lake FSR 27 kilometres north of Merritt

Heavy police presence after reported shooting in Richmond

Reports say a man was hit while riding a motorcycle

B.C. to spend $181M to create 200 general practitioner jobs

Jobs will go to new medical school graduates

Federal leaders trade barbs about India trip at press gallery dinner

Justin Trudeau’s infamous trip to India earlier this year was the focus of many of the jabs

Most Read