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Saint Petersburg is ...
• Russia's second-most populous city after Moscow.
• Known as the Venice of the North because of its network of elegant canals and 342 bridges.
• The inspiration of Peter the Great, who founded it in 1703.
• One of the world's premier art and cultural centres – Saint Petersburg is home to over 250 museums, including the renowned Hermitage.
• Famous for its 'White Nights', long summer evenings when the sun never fully sets.
Where is it?
Situated on the river Neva, at the east end of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Saint Petersburg is around 650km northwest of Moscow.
Saint Petersburg Stadium
• Saint Petersburg Stadium can seat 61,000 people.
• Zenit moved there from Petrovsky Stadium in April 2017, beating Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast 2-0 in their first game.
• The arena hosted four matches at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, including the final, and will stage seven fixtures at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
• It was constructed on the site of the Kirov Stadium, home to Zenit until the early 1990s, on Krestovsky Island.
• The venue was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, whose vision was for a spaceship that had landed on the shores of the Gulf of Finland.
• The nearest metro station is Krestovsky Ostrov on the purple line, which runs through central Saint Petersburg.
Matches at Saint Petersburg Stadium
13 June, time tbc – Group B match
17 June, time tbc – Group B match
22 June, time tbc – Group B match
03 July, 18:00CET – Quarter-final
Getting to and around Saint Petersburg
Pulkovo International Airport is located approximately 23km south of downtown Saint Petersburg. A bus service connects with Moskovskaya Metro Station on the blue line. From there, it is seven stops to Nevsky Prospekt, the city's main thoroughfare. Saint Petersburg also has an extensive network of urban public transport (trams and buses) and taxis.
Where to stay
Saint Petersburg has a host of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from inexpensive mini hotels and hostels to more luxurious lodgings. See useful links below.
What to see
For culture: Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, the State Hermitage Museum houses over three million works of art and cultural artefacts, only a fraction of which are on display in 360 rooms. One of the largest museums in the world, the Hermitage is made up of five buildings, the most famous of which is the magnificent Winter Palace.
For atmosphere: Thousands of tourists and locals gather on the banks of the river Neva every night from April to November to see the 'raising of the bridges'. The city has over 300 bridges, with 13 of them bascules (ones that can open and close to let river traffic through). Watching them go up – some in sequence, some alone, most lit up – is a great opportunity to explore the waterfront.
For fresh air: Just off Palace Embankment, a short distance from Palace Square and the Hermitage, the Summer Garden is Saint Petersburg's oldest park.
Eating and drinking:
St Petersburg food is a combination of Russian and European dishes, with smelt (koryushka) – a small fish with a trademark aroma of cucumber – a city speciality; great fried, but also worth a try smoke-cured and pickled. Sugar-dusted doughnuts (pyshki) are also a big deal, with large queues to be expected for them at one famous cafe, established in 1958, at 25 Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street. Craft beer is the fashion these days, with dozens of private breweries selling their wares in the city.
Football in the city
Zenit have emerged as the main challengers to CSKA and Spartak Moskva's dominance of the Russia Premier-Liga title, winning it four times since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, their finest hour came in European competition in 2008, when they lifted the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Lower-league Dynamo Saint-Petersburg are also part of the city's footballing landscape.
Get out of the city
There are plenty more spectacular palaces within striking distance of St Petersburg, with Peterhof chief among them. The summer residence of the Russian emperors, it was built by Peter the Great in 1710 on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, and is dubbed the Russian Versailles and the Capital of Fountains (it has around 200 of them). There are more palaces at nearby Gatchina, Pushkin, Pavlovsk, Lomonosov and Strelna, while Kronstadt – the seaport on Kotlin Island – is very popular day-out destination.
Visit Petersburg: http://www.visit-petersburg.ru/en_saintpetersburg/
Lonely Planet: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/russia/st-petersburg
Saint Petersburg Stadium: http://piterarena.com/en
Russian Football Union (RFS): http://www.rfs.ru/