by James Ellingworth, The Associated Press, May 4, 2018
MOSCOW (AP) — On the boundary between Europe and Asia, the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg is the furthest east World Cup fans will venture.
It may not be out in Siberia, but Yekaterinburg is a long way to travel. It is 880 miles (1,416 kilometers) east of Moscow, roughly the distance from London to Rome, or from New York to Missouri.
If you're using the free World Cup train service, be ready to make friends with fellow passengers — Yekaterinburg is about 26 hours from Moscow.
Here's what you need to know about the city:
The first thing you will notice about the Yekaterinburg Arena are two vast temporary stands built high out of the main bowl of the stadium on towers of scaffolding.
Accounts from the test games played at the stadium say being in the top row is a vertigo-inducing experience. The stands are there because officials wanted to preserve the stadium's 1950s facade and save on maintenance costs. After the tournament, the stands will go, dropping capacity from 35,000 to 25,000.
There's a prison across the road, too, but it's been redecorated to make it less obvious to visitors.
WHAT TO KNOW
Yekaterinburg is less than 300 years old and was a springboard for the Russian Empire's colonization of Central Asia.
After the Russian Revolution ousted the monarchy, Czar Nicholas II and his family were exiled to Yekaterinburg by their Soviet captors and later shot dead in a basement. July 17 will see commemorations of the 100-year anniversary of their deaths.
WHAT TO DO
Adventurous fans can use Yekaterinburg as a jumping-off point to explore the Urals or head further east into the Asian part of Russia.
In the city, take in some elegant Czarist-era architecture or sample Russian craft beer. Yekaterinburg was one of the first cities to embrace the craft craze with tasty IPAs.
World Cup matches will be shown on a big screen in Mayakovsky Park in the center of the city.
GAMES TO WATCH
Yekaterinburg will host four matches at the World Cup, all in the group stage.
Egypt and Uruguay will meet on June 15 in Group A, before France comes to town on June 21 to face Peru in Group C.
Next up will be Japan and Senegal in Group H on June 24, and then Mexico against Sweden in Group F on June 27.
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