Croatia will play its third game of the World Cup against Iceland in Rostov.
Rostov on Don is located in southern Russia, 46 kilometres from the mouth of the Don River into the Sea of Azov. It is situated 1,226 kilometres from Moscow and is one of the largest cities in the European part of Russia; it is often called the “Gate to the Caucasus”. There are currently more than 1.5 million people of different nationalities living in the city. Since it is located near Ukraine, there are many Ukrainians living there, as well as people from Azerbaijan, Georgia…
The city was established in 1749 on the right bank of the river Don to protect important Russian trade routes, while a fort was built in 1760. During the Soviet Union, the Bolsheviks destroyed the church of Alexander Nevsky, and the city was heavily devastated during the Second World War (especially in 1941 and 1942).
The modern Rostov is the political, economic and cultural centre of southern Russia, with a railway station and a new airport. The new Platov Airport is not close to the city (about 30 kilometres away), so be prepared for a one-hour trip by bus or taxi. The old airport, which was just eight kilometres from the city centre, was closed on March 1, 2018.
Citizens of Rostov are employed in the wood processing sector, electrical engineering and chemical industry, but also in agriculture since the area around the city is extremely fertile while the climate is gentle. Several years ago, the Numbeo platform has analyzed the world’s leading cities based on a number of factors related to the crime rate and growth, safety on streets, fear of robbery, bullying, racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, and danger of theft. Incredibly, at the time (2015), Rostov-on-Don was at the very top of the rankings because that year the crime levels increased by over twenty percent. One of the reasons for this was the rise in the illegal arms trade and the consequences of the war after the secession of Donbas in Ukraine. In the last few years, the situation has stabilized and now there is no more fear for the safety of visitors.
The Don river enhances the beauty of the city. The Rostov Arena is situated right next to the river bank and can accommodate 45,000 spectators. The city seems extremely large and complicated, but if you look more closely, you will realise that it is extremely easy to find your way around.
There are not many great attractions in the city, this is not Moscow after all, but it is pleasant to walk in numerous parks or sail down the river Don. While taking a walk is pleasant in the summer months, it is quite different in the other three seasons. Particular attention should be paid to holes on the pathways since tourists could get hurt and end up in a hospital emergency room. During winter, when they are covered with snow, ice and slush, they are even more dangerous.
You should certainly visit Pushkin Street, the 3.5-kilometre long main street and a promenade. It offers the best shaurma (kebab), the best flower shops, cafes, shops and restaurants. The Rostov State Library is one of the largest in the Russian Federation but is housed in an ugly modern building. Near Pushkin Street, you can find the October Revolution Park (for children) and the Maxim Gorky City Park.
If you are hungry, all Russian markets offer plenty of interesting foods, everything you can imagine. Just follow your nose and you will find your way.
And in the sunset, you can visit the disco ship on Don or have a quiet walk along the river.
You will love Rostov, once a dangerous city, but now nicely decorated for all the guests of the World Cup.