In June, the world will know fantastic Saint Petersburg. The venue for seven soccer matches in the 2018 World Cup, Russia’s second largest city will be host to Brazil, Morocco, Iran, Egypt, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Argentina and the Russian national team in the first phase of the tournament, and will also hold the round of 16, the semifinal and the contest for third place. All of them in the Krestovsky stadium, one of the greatest symbols of the modernization of the metropolis, curiously situated at a distance of about eight kilometers and 101 years from the Hermitage (Winter Palace), a historical Russian landmark, for being, besides one of the world’s greatest art museums, the official residence of the Czars until the fall of the Russian monarchy.
Past, present and future are blended in the streets of Saint Petersburg, and this can be felt by tourists as soon as they leave the Pulkovo airport.
A UNESCO World Heritage, Saint Petersburg is considered the cultural capital of the country and the most beautiful and most cosmopolitan city in Russia. This being said, there is no lack of entertainment options for all ages and prices.
Beginning, of course, with the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world, with no fewer than ten buildings, seven of which are constituted by historical and artistic monuments. Situated on the margins of the River Neva, the Winter Palace, former home of monarchs, holds a vast collection of Russian, European and African history, with over three million articles from diverse periods, styles and cultures. The group of buildings - the tallest in the city, by decree – also holds a music academy, a theater, and cultural wings for interchanges with other countries.
Also outstanding is the Mariinsky Theater. With ballet and opera productions, the theater, inaugurated in 1860, was stage to the openings of works that revolutionized the artistic scene all over the world. There, audiences were thrilled by works of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, among others. Currently, the important company employs no fewer than 23 Tenors, 22 Sopranos – such as the great Anna Netrebko – 14 Basses, 13 Mezzo-Sopranos - especially Olga Borodina – and 8 Baritones.
Situated on the margins of the Griboedov Canal, the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood goes far beyond a normal church. It is the best-known building in Saint Petersburg for its beautiful architecture. Orthodox religious ceremonies are no longer held there – it has become a museum with works of art on its walls and ceilings. There is an outstanding and unique collection of heraldry, in a decoration with 134 mosaics of coats of arms, representing Russian provinces and communities.
Speaking now of the greatest sports event on the planet, we come to the modern Krestovsky Stadium, home to the Zenit, one of the most important teams in the country. With a capacity of 69 thousand fans, work on the stadium that replaces the old Kirov stadium cost US$1.5 billion, way beyond the initial cost of US$220 million. Since FIFA demanded that all the stadiums be open-air, the Krestovsky was designed with movable parts weighing over 2000 tons so that the stadium may be closed during the rigorous winter, when temperatures reach -10 degrees Celsius.
When to visit
Although the World Cup takes place between June and July, the best time of the year to visit Saint Petersburg is between September and December, when temperatures aren’t extremely low, and because it is autumn, when the landscape is most beautiful, with the trees showing a lovely yellow-reddish color.
Please remember that tourists must have an International Certificate of vaccination against yellow fever.
Take note: World Cup matches in Saint Petersburg
15/06 – Morocco X Iran – Group B
19/06 – Russia X Egypt – Group A
22/06 – Brazil X Costa Rica – Group E
26/06 – Nigeria X Argentina – Group D
03/07 – Round of 16
10/07 – Semifinal
14/07 – Contest for third place