A fans’ guide to Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg is the fourth largest city in Russia and the capital of the Ural region. The city was founded by the first Russian Emperor, and marks the place where the last Russian Emperor and his family were assassinated.

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Source: Pixabay, 2048492

UNESCO has named Yekaterinburg one of the world’s twelve ideal cities. As the capital of the Urals, a territory full of natural treasures such as oil, gas, gold mines and Europe’s largest emerald deposit, the city stands on the Iset River, on the border between Europe and Asia.

Yekaterinburg was named after Russian emperor Peter the Great’s wife, Yekaterina, who later became Catherine I after Peter’s death. Today, some of the tallest skyscrapers in Russia can be found here. But most tourists head for the old centre with its impressive historic buildings, including the Church on Blood, one of Russia’s largest churches. It stands on the spot where members of the Russian Imperial family were shot by the Bolsheviks in July 1918. And believe it or not, there’s also a monument to the Beatles nearby!

In Soviet times, the city became a major industrial and administrative centre. Its Uralmash (Ural Heavy Machine Building Plant) played a crucial role during World War II.

Yekaterinburg is a fascinating mix of East and West, modern and historic, so travelling fans are sure to find plenty to see and do here between matches. Enjoy the competition!

Where to stay

Yekaterinburg is a popular tourist destination for Russians and foreigners alike. It’s location on the border between Europe and Asia, historical connections and fascinating cultural and ethnic mix make this a truly fascinating place to visit. So unsurprisingly, the city’s tourist infrastructure is well developed.

From budget hostels to expensive luxury hotels such as Hyatt and Park Inn, there’s plenty of choice, so you should have no trouble finding the option that’s right for you. And because the stadium is close to the city centre, and easily walkable from the main square, location isn’t as crucial as it is in some of the other host cities.

But it’s always a good idea to get expert, friendly advice on where to stay and finding the best deals. That’s why you need to partner with RNTO. Just give us a call on 0207 985 1234, and we’ll make sure you get the best-value accommodation available.

The stadium

Unlike so many other stadia hosting this year’s World Cup, the Yekaterinburg Arena hasn’t been built from scratch specifically to host Russia 2018. Constructed between 1953 and 1957, Central Stadium (as it was then called) was initially a multi-sports arena, also hosting athletics and ice skating events.

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Source: Wiki Commons, Falshivomonetchik

In the mid-2000s, plans were made to extensively redevelop the stadium, which is home to FC Ural. Work began in 2007 and, after multiple delays, was completed in 2011, giving the stadium an extensive make-over, but keeping the athletics track and sticking with a similar capacity as before (27 000).

But then, Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup, and soon after, Yekaterinburg was shortlisted as one of the host cities for the tournament. Unfortunately, the recent renovations didn’t meet FIFA standards, so new redevelopment plans had to be made. The entire interior was rebuilt, boosting capacity to 45 000 seats.

During this year’s World Cup, the Yekaterinburg Arena will host four first-round group games. After the World Cup, capacity will be reduced to 35 000 by removing the temporary seating behind both goals.

The Arena is located in central Yekaterinburg, just east of the city centre. The walk from the main 1905 Square takes about 20 minutes. Yekaterinburg’s main train station, located a little north of the city centre, is further away from the Arena, just under 4 kilometres or a 45-minute walk. Tram 3, 5, 7, 21, 23, 27 and 32 all connect the station with Kommunarov Square, from where it’s a short walk to the stadium. And remember: your FAN ID allows you to travel free on selected routes, saving you money and helping make your World Cup experience even more special.

The action kicks off on Friday 15 June with Egypt v Uruguay. Six days later, France take on Peru. Don’t miss it!

What to see

A great place to start your exploration of this fascinating city is the ‘Red Line’, a tourist pedestrian route that takes you through the historic centre of the city. Along the way, you’ll see the Residence of the Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Sevastyanov House (the most beautiful building in Yekaterinburg), the Water Tower and Metal Shop Exhibition (one of the city’s landmarks), the Monument to Tatishchev and De Gennin (the founders of the city), the self-explanatory Slanted House, City Administration building, Kharitonov Garden and even a monument to the Beatles.

Some of the city’s main tourist attractions are connected with the murder of Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family on the night of 17 July 1918.

Ganina Yama was once a pit in the woods where the bodies of the executed Romanov family and three of their dedicated servants were disposed of. Today, it’s home to a series of wooden chapels dedicated to the memory of the Romanovs. As well as the chapels, there’s a garden of lilies in honour of the family.

The Church on the Blood (near the Dinamo Metro station) was built in 2003 on the site where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed (the infamous Ipatiev House).

Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, on the west bank of the river, contains many fine works by Russian 18th and 19th-century artists, some lovely small sculptures and lots of jewellery. Or for something completely different, head for Shirokorechenskoye Kladbishche Cemetery, the infamous ‘Mafia cemetery’ with its dozens of graves with life-size images in stone of former Mafia members.

For great panoramas of the city, visit the Vysotsky Skyscraper: the tallest building outside Moscow, and the northernmost skyscraper in the world. Its observation deck is located on the 52nd floor where, from a height of 186 metres, you can view the centre of Yekaterinburg and beyond.

Or maybe the city’s zoo is more your cup of tea. Here, you can relax with the whole family, see exotic animals and learn more about the amazing life of the zoo’s inhabitants. Today, it contains more than 380 species.

1905 Square is the city’s main square. Its name is down to the revolutionary events that occurred there in November 1905. For more recent historical connections, visit the Yeltsin Centre, next to the Hyatt Regency. Opened in 2015, the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre serves as a social, cultural and educational venue. One of its main features is Boris Yeltsin’s Museum, a vast exposition dedicated to the contemporary political history of Russia and its first president, who was born in Yekaterinburg.

Bars and restaurants

There are plenty of great places to eat and drink in Yekaterinburg. Unsurprisingly, due to its location, there’s a huge range of different types of bars and restaurants on offer, such as the self-explanatory BeerBar and Hookah Project, or something a little more Russian (and difficult to pronounce) like the Tri Tolstyaka and Hmel.

Needless to say, the main tourist areas are well provided for, but wherever you go in Yekaterinburg, you’re never far from a great place to eat or drink.

The city is well served with cocktail bars and nightclubs, too, so the party can continue well into the early hours and beyond. Some of the venues are a little hidden away, but you can always ask a local, taxi driver or the front desk of your hotel for advice and recommendations.

As always, the official Russia 2018 website has some useful recommendations.

Watch for free

The World Cup Fan Fest sites are official public viewing events offering an authentic experience for local and visiting fans free of charge. Big screens and wide-open spaces mean supporters from around the world can come together and watch all the games for free – great atmosphere guaranteed!

Every host city has one, occupying such iconic locations as Sparrow Hills on the right bank of the Moskva River in Moscow, or the famous beach promenade in Sochi.

Yekaterinburg’s Fan Fest can be found at the Mayakovsky Central Park of Entertainment and Culture. Located just outside the city centre in a well-known amusement park, this great venue offers fans all the excitement of every game, with a total capacity of around 17 000. Where better to catch all the action from across the tournament and share the best World Cup experience ever with thousands of other supporters from around the world.

For more information, see the official FIFA website. Have a great Russia 2018!

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