Yekaterinburg: 'Yeltsin Centre', Sverdlovsk rock and 'Ural mentality'

Matches

Four WC group stage matches will be in Yekaterinburg. The teams that will test the pitch of the local stadium are far from being the last on their continents and can even for the 2018 WC medals. The ''Russian'' group match Egypt vs Uruguay will be here on 15 June. The national team of France will clear the air with the squad from Peru on 21 June. The third match will be on 24 June – Japan vs Senegal, the fourth – on 27 June – Sweden vs Mexico.

And here the championship in the Ural capital will end. Citizens of Yekaterinburgwill be able to see play-off games only on TV or in other cities.

Stadium

The main events of the WC will take place at Yekaterinburg Arena sports complex. After reconstruction, 35,000 spectators will be able to stay here. This grandiose construction in the city centre (Ekaterinburg, 5, Repina Street) is more than 60 years. The construction, which was erected in the style of Stalinist neoclassicism), is a cultural heritage site and included in the list of cultural monuments of regional importance.

It's interesting that the stadium was a velodrome first – merchant and beneficiary Kamaletdin Agafurov built this facility in 1900. Football matches started to be held here from 1913 too. The V. I. Lenin Ural Regional Stadium opened in 1928. In 1950, a new sports complex for 27,000 spectators – Central Stadium – was designed and built in the 1950s with the help of German engineers who were prisoners of war. This name is still conserved (the stadium will become Ekaterinburg Arena only during the championship). The next reconstruction stages of the sports complex ended in 2011 and 2017. Now it complies with all modern Russian and international requirements (three-star category).

It's a home arena of FC Ural, which plays in the Russian Football Premier League.

Stadium stop

As Yekaterinburg Arena is located in the city centre, as we already said, it's easy to travel on public transport. Buses 2, 4, 19, 21, 25, 28, 45 (from the railway station), 61, 64, 70 and Trolleybus 3, 7 go to Central Stadium stop and Bus 11 goes to Melnikov Street.

Tram 2 and 18 go to Eternal Flame stop. And you will have to walk for 10-15 minutes (1 km) on Lenin Prospekt from 1905 Square metro station and turn to Repin.

Where to stay

Ekaterinburg is a city with quite developed infrastructure, including the tourism sector. There are many hotels. But the rooms that suit the price/quality ratio the best during the WC have already been bought in many of them. This is why guests of the city should think of finding a temporary place of stay or find relatives and friends who would let you stay overnight beforehand.

More than 200 organisations of the city offer long-awaited beds to guests. According to Booking.com, nowadays the cheapest option will cost 1,500 rubles per night for one person – it's a hostel not in the centre of Yekaterinburg, the room may have other residents, shared bathroom and other trimmings of residence hall. You will have to pay more to have a private room, food, high-level service, be close to the city centre, stadium and other joys of life. For instance, those who want to live in an apartment in front of Yekaterinburg Arena can pay 56,000 rubles per night.

Sightseeing points

A general impression of the Ural capital can be made on the observation deck of Vysotsky business centre, which is on 51, Malysheva Street. Famous Yeltsin Centre is located in Yekaterinburg also because first Russian President Boris Yeltsin was from Sverdlovsk (the Soviet name of the city). Themed exhibitions, excursions, lectures, conferences, documentaries, meetings with famous political experts and social activists take place in the complex-museum on 3, Boris Yeltsin Street.

Visitors will plunge into the atmosphere of the Russian ''tumultuous 90s''. For pleasant leisure time, walks with beautiful views citizens and guests of Ekaterinburg go to the River Iset Urban Pond Dam – there is a picturesque embankment, arboretum, fountains and nice cafes. What is more, the city has many landmarks – famous and not much. But almost each of them deserves special attention: Black Tulip (dedicated to the dead in fights in Afghanistan), Vladimir Vysotsky, warriors of the Ural Volunteer Tank Corpus, The Beatles and others.

Where to eat

Guests of the championship are likely to eat in habitual fast food establishments of worldwide known brands, it's good they are almost everywhere. Prices are relatively low in local cafes.

Those who love fine cuisine, can spend thousands rubles for lunch should directly go to Ekaterinburg restaurants. My Friend Olivie, which specialises in Italian cuisine, is the leader of TripAdvisor. Khmeli Suneli is on the second place (Near Eastern cuisine). Pashtet (Russian and European cuisines) is also on the podium.

Restaurateurs are creative people, while those from Ural are too creative. For instance, dishes can be tasted in establishments with such names as Happiness, Belmesy, Khachapuri for Pushkin, Lovey-Dovey, Alibi, Where Are You?, Mixing, EatBURGer, Chuck Norris Bar, Kastorka, Bar ХХХХ, Eshak, Next Box, Gossip Bar. And one can only guess what is served in Cads restaurants.

Highlights/specifics

The Ural mentality formed under the influence of the ''mining civilisation''. Ancestors of today's citizens of Yekaterinburg are workers of public factories, exiled people, Cossacks, workers of top-priority construction projects. There are fewer Old Believers, representatives of Turkic and Finno-Ugric people. Great-grandfathers' rich past couldn't help but make an impact on the Ural character, especial attitude to labour, by the way. It's supposed an Ural man is reserved, enduring, unpretentious, but he always defends his opinion.

Boris Grebenshchikov (Aquarium), Vyacheslav Butusov (Nautilus Pompilius), the Samoilov Brothers (Agatha Christie), Vladimir Shakhrin (Chaif), Sergey 'Buba' Bobunets (Semantic Hallucinations), Aleksandr Pantykin (Urfin Juice), Mikhail Simakov (April March), Yegor Belkin, Nastya, Ilya Kormiltsev – millions of ''Russian rock'' lovers know the names of these people from Ural and their groups. By the way, Yury Shevchuk became popular in this city in the middle 1980s – between Ufa and Leningrad periods of existence of DDT. The next generation of Ural rockers – Yulia Chicherina, Liza Monetochka, Sansara, Kurara groups – are a bit less famous.

The unfinished television tower deserved special attention among Yekaterinburg's landmarks – a 231-metre symbol of the Soviet Union's sunset. It was built in the late 1980s, then the construction was abandoned. Some time later, the regional government raised a question on the tower's demolition, while social activists asked to rebuild it and even offered different projects. But the tower was demolished in March to build an ice palace instead. The Peace and Agreement Square was planned to be built here. It was thought to erect a church, synagogue and cathedral mosque. And the Orthodox and Jewish temples were erected, there was a delay with the Muslim one. The temporary mosque is requested to be demolished, and that ice stadium is planned to be built instead of the future ''house of Allah''.

By Timur Rakhmatullin