Every four years, the FIFA World Cup promises to bring great emotions to football fans. Support or not, this competition is also an opportunity to update your knowledge of geography by discovering, this year, the Russian cities that host the matches. With a territory of 17 million km2 spread over two continents, Russia is the largest country in the world. For logistical reasons, it was therefore necessary to choose among its many metropolises, avoiding that players had to travel too many kilometres between each match. Let's discover the 11 elected cities.
Ekaterinburg, between East and West
As a gateway to Asia, Ekaterinburg is the only city on the eastern side to participate in this year's competition. It was here that Les Bleus won the match against Peru on June 21. The Ekaterinburg Arena, the city's stadium built during the Cold War, is a real architectural UFO. Two additional stands located outside its enclosure and perched at a height of 42 m were built for the competition
Kaliningrad, Russian enclave
Kaliningrad, 1,252 km from Moscow, is the former capital of East Prussia. Kaliningrad is located between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea and has no direct access to Russia. Kaliningrad, the city of Emmanuel Kant, which now rests in its cathedral, boasts Soviet architecture that in no way contrasts with the sobriety of its stadium, which was inaugurated in 2017 for the Football World Cup
Kazan, heart of Tatarstan
Emblematic of Russian diversity, Kazan is the meeting point of East and West, Islam and Orthodoxy, but also of Russia and Asia. A land of diverse influences, Kazan has a rich historical and cultural heritage that attracts many students. But it is his stadium that has been in the spotlight since the start of the football World Cup. It was here that the French team played its first match against Australia on 16 June.
Moscow, capital of football
Its Kremlin and Red Square make Moscow the political and economic heart of Russia. The capital is therefore also, quite rightly, one of the nerve centres of the FIFA World Cup. Its two stadiums, the Loujniki and Spartak Arena, will host the most important matches of the competition: a semi-final and the final on 15 July. It was also here that the opening match took place on June 14
Nizhny Novgorod, along the Volga River
Located on a hill overlooking the Volga River, east of Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The birthplace of the writer Maxime Gorki, it was named after the country's child for nearly 60 years, until 1991. The city will host 6 matches during the competition, including a much anticipated quarter-final, in a brand new stadium
Rostov-on-Don, Gateway to the Caucasus
Located on the banks of the Don River, near the Azov Sea, Rostov-on-Don is only 60 km from the Ukrainian border. Apart from the geopolitical context, this city was elected for the importance of its club, FC Rostov, but also for its great dynamism. It is considered to be the capital of southern Russia. Its stadium, the Rostov Arena, will host 5 matches, including a 1/8 final match
St. Petersburg, imperial capital
St. Petersburg was built on water in 1703, under the will of Emperor Peter the Great from whom it takes its present name. As the imperial capital for two centuries, its famous Hermitage Museum or Mariinsky Theatre make it the country's main cultural centre today. Its stadium, which will host seven World Cup matches, was built on Krestovsky Island, replacing the former Kirov Stadium
Samara, in space
On the banks of the Volga and a few kilometres from Kazakhstan, Samara is well known for its aeronautical industry since it is here that the rocket that sent Yuri Gagarin into space was built. Its stadium, the Kosmos Arena, recalls this heritage with its spatial architecture giving it the appearance of a flying saucer. It will host 4 group matches, one 1/8 final and one 1/4 final
Saransk, the attractive
500 km south-east of Moscow, the capital of the Republic of Mordovia is the least populated host city with only 300,000 inhabitants. Saransk, the gateway to the Finno-Ugric region, has been a hot topic in recent years since Gérard Depardieu moved here. Who knows if the actor will attend the 4 group matches that will take place at the Mordovia Arena, the city's stadium?
Sochi,the popular seaside
resort, Sochi is the city of the Russian Riviera. It extends over more than 140 km of coastline at the foot of the Caucasus. In 2014, Sochi hosted the Olympic Winter Games and carried out colossal works for the occasion. This year, the World Cup organisers wanted to make these infrastructures profitable by building the Ficht stadium, which was inaugurated four years earlier. 4 group matches, a 1/8 final and a 1/4 final will be held in Sochi
Volgograd, a city of history
Formerly Stalingrad, Volgograd now takes its name from the Volga, the river that crosses it. The weight of history is very much present here, even if no monument predates the Second World War: a terrible battle razed the city to the ground between 1942 and 1943. The monumental statue of the "Motherland", 85 m high, glorifies its fighters and watches over the city. The Volgograd Arena is hosting 4 group games this year