The world's greatest show has kicked off in the biggest country in the world.

Russia is spreading the love as far as possible as hosts the 2018 Fifa Football World Cup, from June 14 to July 15. The twelve stadiums in eleven host cities stretch from Kaliningrad in Europe all the way to Ekaterinburg in the eastern steppes.



It's an area covering four time zones and some 1,875,442 kmยฒ of Western Russia.

There's a dizzying ammount to take in but perhaps you need to a break in play.

Here's a quick match briefing on the staduim settings and what these host cities have to offer, besides soccer.

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Kaliningrad

The Kaliningrad Stadium

A tiny pocket of Russia tucked between neighbours Poland and Luthuania, for the hosts Kaliningrad is a bit of a home-game away from home. This European outpost is the Birthplace of German thinker Kant, back when it was "Kรถnigsberg", but there's no time to get philosophical about the shared German Russian history. The first game is Croatia vs Nigeria, on the 16th of June in the Kaliningrad Stadium. This new build for the 2018 world cup is on the banks of the Pregola river.

Cultural capital: The Church of the Savior in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo / Getty
Cultural capital: The Church of the Savior in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photo / Getty

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg Stadium

The city of Imperial Russian palaces on the Baltic, St Petersburg sits as the ancient gateway to the West. The city remains the great cultural heart of the nation claiming Pushkin, Tolstoy, the Russian National Ballet and a million miles of gallery wall. The Winter Palace is Russia's largest art museum. From orthodox icons to Kandinsky it's a journey taking hundreds of years, by the end your feet will feel every one of them.

Another national treasure is the football stadium on Krestovsky Island, home to Zenit St. Petersburg. It gets chilly in the baltic, even in but the stadium is designed to keep things at a warm 15 degrees Celsius.

The beautiful game will be kicking off on June 15, as Morocco takes on Iran.

Russian Steppes: Volga staircase has reaches up to the ancient kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod. Photo / Getty
Russian Steppes: Volga staircase has reaches up to the ancient kremlin in Nizhny Novgorod. Photo / Getty

Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod Stadium

Sat on the Volga River, Nizhny Novgorod is the historic centre of Russia's most famous commodities: furs and fish eggs. Steer clear of the virgin sturgeon, which has been hunted almost to extinction for its caviar. Instead local red salmon caviar can be tried fresh from the Volga, far more cost effective and a local delicacy.

The beautiful city Kremlin is just as old as the famous counterpart in red square, if not more authentic. The Nizhny Novgorod is situated next to the picturesque Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. The first fixture is between Sweden and Korea on the 18th of June.

Old and new: The red stars top red square with a view of Moscow s modern business district behind. Photo / Vasil Nanev, Getty
Old and new: The red stars top red square with a view of Moscow s modern business district behind. Photo / Vasil Nanev, Getty

Moscow

Spartak Stadium and Luzhniki Stadium

Moscow is the epicentre of Russia. Its travel treasures include the Unesco sites such as the Kremlin, Red Square and the onion-domed St. Basil's Cathedral. It is one of the world's great capitals and brings together over eight hundred years of history. Fittingly the two World Cup stadiums are a mix of old and new Moscow.

Spartak Stadium is the home of Russia's oldest football teams FC Spartak , the 'people's club' founded in 1922. Meanwhile the Luzhniki Stadium has just finished a five-year refurbishment to make it the 80,000-seat, leading stadium of the country.

The Mordovia Arena stadium represents local ceramics in Saransk, Russia. Photo / Getty
The Mordovia Arena stadium represents local ceramics in Saransk, Russia. Photo / Getty

Saransk

Mordovia Arena

Out east is Saransk. At the very centre of Russia it is a melting pot into which the Eurasian cultures poured. The result is what Fifa describes as "one of the most pleasant cities in Russia." Its also one of the most diverse and home to the unique languages and cultures of the Moksha and Erzya ethnic groups. The Mordovia Stadium was built to resemble local ceramics and commemorate a half millennia of Ivan the Terrible's bringing the Mongol outpost under rule. Peru plays Denmark here on June 16.

Kazan

Kazan Arena

One of the oldest Russian cities Kazan is the current capital of modern Tartarstan. The city is home to one of Russia's largest universities Kazan Federal University, with 180,000 students. It's not just football or student populations which are big here, the hockey and basketball teams are some of the best in Russia.

The Kazan arena was built to host the Summer World University Games and will be pitting France against Australia on June 16.

Yuri Gagarin's Soyuz rocket booster but the Cosmonaut Museum in Samara. Photo / Yegor Aleyev, Getty
Yuri Gagarin's Soyuz rocket booster but the Cosmonaut Museum in Samara. Photo / Yegor Aleyev, Getty

Samara

Samara Arena

At the other end of the Volga river, Samara became known as the 'other captial' when the Kremlin evacuated here during the Second World War. Stalin's bunker is still here, 40 metres beneath the Zhigulevskie nature reserve.

From down below to up above โ€“ Samara is also a 20 tonne replica of cosmonaut Yugi Gagarin's space rocket, close to where the first man in space returned to earth.

Back on terra firma Costa Rica will be playing Serbia here on June 17.

Soviet sculptures of a milling machine operator, a female skier, a rifleman, a footballer, a female torchbearer, and a steel worker on the Ekaterinburg Stadium. Photo / Donat Sorokin, Getty
Soviet sculptures of a milling machine operator, a female skier, a rifleman, a footballer, a female torchbearer, and a steel worker on the Ekaterinburg Stadium. Photo / Donat Sorokin, Getty

Ekaterinburg

Ekaterinburg Arena

The most eastern host city in the tournament, Ekaterinburg is named after Russian empress Catherine I.

Since the 1800s its industry and metal works have made it the iron heart of the Russia

The Soviet neo-classical stadium is an architectural time warp, with decorative sculptures and banners that were designed in 1953. It's also home to FC Ural, which will be sharing the stadium for home fixtures during the tournament. Egypt against Uruguay kicks off here on June 15.

Battle of Stalingrad 'Motherland' war memorial in Volgograd. Photo / Getty
Battle of Stalingrad 'Motherland' war memorial in Volgograd. Photo / Getty

Volgograd

Volgograd Arena

Volgograd โ€“ formerly known as 'Stalingrad', comrade โ€“ is on the Western bank of the river Volga. The Battle of Stalingrad was seen as the turning point in the Second World War. The stadium is built at the foot of the Mamyev Kurgan war memorial a 85-metre statue of a Valkyrie with sword. The fierce looking lady commemorates the million men lost in the battle and provides panoramic views of the plane below.

Meeting here in more friendly but still competitive terms is Tunisia and England on June 18.

A young Rostovian Cossack hacks at a water bottle with his sabre. Photo / Vladimir Smirnov, Getty
A young Rostovian Cossack hacks at a water bottle with his sabre. Photo / Vladimir Smirnov, Getty

Rostov on don

Rostov arena

The home of Cossak culture, Rostov area is famous for its fur-hat-wearing, sabre-wielding horsemen. The hearty culture and cuisine of crayfish and vodka goes down a treat and can be sampled in one of the many beaches which have formed on the banks of the river Don. It's just 70km away from the border with Ukraine.

Rostov arena is situated on the left bank of the river by the Grebnoy canals and is home to FC Rostov. Though the Cossaks will have to move over for Brazil's opening game against Switzerland on June 17.

white mountains of the Fisht Stadium sits behind tourists bathing on the Black Sea in Sochi. Photo / Lukas Schulze, Getty
white mountains of the Fisht Stadium sits behind tourists bathing on the Black Sea in Sochi. Photo / Lukas Schulze, Getty

Sochi

Fisht Stadium

Though it's best known for hosting winter sports, this Black Sea resort has an almost Mediterranean feel. Known as the "Russian Riviera" it sits comfortably between the ski resorts and the sailing clubs and pleasure beaches on the sea.

The Fisht Stadium is located in the Olympic Park, built for the 2014 winter games. It's named after the snowy Fisht "white headed" mountain range.

Things will be heating up here in time for Portugal's opener against Spain on June 15.