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

Costa Rica plays Brazil in St. Petersburg on June 22


MOSCOW – 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.

In this photo taken on Thursday, May 3, 2018, a general view of the soccer stadium Saint Petersburg, in St.Petersburg, Russia. Dmitri Lovetsky AP Photo

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



The vast St. Petersburg Stadium was a headache for the Russian government, taking a decade to build as costs soared to 43 billion rubles (US$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.


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

In this photo taken on Thursday, May 3, 2018, street actors dressed in 18th century costumes dance at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia. Dmitri Lovetsky AP Photo

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 center 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.


The grand avenue of Nevsky Prospekt is St. Petersburg’s heart, running past parks, theaters 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.

In this photo taken on Thursday, May 3, 2018, people walk at the Neva River embankment in St. Petersburg, Russia, with the city landmarks, Zimny (Winter) palace, Admiralty building and St. Isaac’s Cathedral in the background. Dmitri Lovetsky AP Photo


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.

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