World Cup 2018 host cities get unique identities

The 11 cities’ identikits are designed to reveal their cultural values, architectural landmarks and natural beauty to the whole world.
10 March 2016

All the host cities of the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia™ now boast their unique designations, aligned with the World Cup 2018 identikit. The 11 cities’ identities were designed to pitch their cultural values, architectural landmarks and natural beauty to the world.  

"The intent of Russia-2018 Organizing Committee and FIFA in giving each host city its own brand and identity is to enhance Russia’s tourist appeal, highlighting its unique destinations in visual images, revealing their matchless beauty and their roots in history and tradition,” said Russia-2018 CEO Aleksey Sorokin. “We firmly believe that the Russian and international sports fans’ impressions of the World Cup host cities will be as colourful as those cities’ emblems.”   

The designers working on the city identikits have used the recognizable parts of local architecture, the signature monuments, and elements of local heraldry, terrain, flora and fauna characteristic of the regions slated to host games of the World Cup. The famous Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed and the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower are easy to recognize in the city emblem of Moscow. Kaliningrad is recognized by its main Cathedral in the emblem; Samara, by the Soyuz booster rocket, which was created in the city. The Motherland statue calls out from the emblem of Volgograd, this time apostrophizing football fans, while Kazan’s symbol features Zilant the Dragon from the local lore.  

St. Petersburg is represented by its Peter I monument, popularly known as the Bronze Horseman. Yekaterinburg, by the Ural mountains; Nizhny Novgorod, by its very own Kremlin; Rostov-on-Don, by its memorial stele; Sochi, by the Black Sea; and Saransk, by its Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov.

Click on image to view city emblem in HD

Moscow © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed

The Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed (otherwise known as the Cathedral of the Protection of the Holy Virgin on the Moat) in Moscow’s Red Square is one of the most readily recognized architectural landmarks in the world. It bears eight multicoloured domes, indicating the number of the annexes surrounding the central church, topped by a gold-plated dome.  

Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed, Moscow © Nikolai Galkin/ТАSS

Bolshoi Theatre

One of the cultural symbols of Russia, the Bolshoi with its century-old history is a distinguished ballet and opera house, enjoying worldwide recognition.

Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow © Sergei Savostyanov/ТАSS

Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower

This tower of the Moscow Kremlin is the home of the famous Kuranty chiming clock, which chimes in the New Year for all Russians.   

Yuri Gagarin monument

The monument to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was unveiled for the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

Kaliningrad © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee   

The Cathedral

Kaliningrad’s main cathedral, built in the 14th century, is famous for its organ, one of the largest in Europe.

Kaliningrad Cathedral © Ruslan Shamukov/ТАSS

The Forest of Dancing Trees

The “Dancing Forest” at the Curonian Spit in the Kaliningrad Oblast is a veritable miracle of nature. Not even scientists can explain how these pines became so intricately twisted.

Forest of Dancing Trees, Kaliningrad Oblast © Ruslan Shamukov /ТАSS

Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea generously scatters amber every year on the sandy beaches of the Kaliningrad Oblast, believed to be the home of 80% of the world’s stock of amber, the “Sun-rock.”  

Fishing Village lighthouse

Fishing Village is a modern Kaliningrad neighbourhood, imitating the medieval architecture of Koenigsberg. Fishing Village is beloved of both locals and visitors.  

World Ocean Museum

The exhibits at this museum include several historic civil ships and warships, such as the Vityaz research ship, which had measured the deepest part of the world’s oceans. ​

Samara © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Glory monument

The “Glory” monument in Samara, the capital of Russia’s aerospace industry, was erected in 1971 in honour of aerospace industry workers.

Glory monument, Samara © Vladimir Smirnov/ТАSS

Samara the Space Capital

The 50-metre Soyuz space launch vehicle, developed and manufactured in Samara, stands tall in one of the city’s main streets. The rocket is part of the museum, Samara the Space Capital, opened in 2007.

"Samara the Space Capital," Samara © Vladimir Smirnov/ТАSS

The goat

The image of a nanny-goat is depicted on Samara’s coat of arms.  

The Volga

Samara stands on the bank of the Volga, the great Russian river, the longest river in Europe  (3530 km) and one of the longest in the world.  

Volgograd © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Mamay Hill

This hill on the right bank of the Volga saw extremely ferocious fighting during the Battle of Stalingrad, which turned the tides of the 2nd World War. Now a majestic memorial complex towers on Mamay Hill, with the “Motherland” statue in the middle.

“Your Motherland Calls You” memorial, Volgograd © Nikolai Galkin/ТАSS

Central Esplanade

The pedestrian Central Esplanade is Volgograd’s main street. A breath-taking view of the Volga below opens upon from the top of its main staircase.

Central Esplanade, Volgograd © Nikolai Galkin/ТАSS

Fire watchtower

The fire watchtower, which had housed the city’s first detachment of fire-fighters, was built smack in the middle of town at the end of the 19th century, and is one of the very few buildings remaining intact from that epoch.    

The fish

The rare and delicious Osetra, Beluga and Sterlet, all of the sturgeon family, occur in the Volga and its basin.

Kazan © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Qul Sharif Mosque

Qul Sharif, the main cathedral mosque of Tatarstan, is located inside the Kazan Kremlin. Kazan is a city where many ethnic groups and religious denominations coexist peacefully.

Qul Sharif Mosque, Kazan © Yegor Aleyev/ТАSS

Zilant the Dragon monument

Zilant the winged viper was a symbol of wisdom, immortality and power, worshipped by the Tatars in Kazan during the Middle Ages. Zilant was depicted on the seal of the Khan of Kazan. The black dragon is now depicted on Kazan’s coat of arms.  

Zilant the Dragon monument, Kazan © Yegor Aleyev/ТАSS


They call this firehouse, which is part of the Qul Sharif Mosque complex, “Skullcap” due to its unusual shape, which really is reminiscent of the traditional Tatar headdress.   

St. Petersburg © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Peter I monument

Made famous by Aleksander Pushkin in his long poem Bronze Horseman, this monument to the “emperor and reformer” is one of the signature symbols of Russia’s northern capital.

Peter I monument, St. Petersburg © Ruslan Shamukov /ТАSS

Rostral Columns

The Rostral Columns, erected on the Vasilievsky Island Spit in 1810, symbolized Russia’s naval might.  

Rostral Columns, St. Petersburg © Aleksander Demyanchuk/ТАSS


The Admiralty was historically a shipyard, built to the blueprints of Emperor Peter I himself.

Yekaterinburg © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Sevastyanov’s Mansion

This original mansion, built for a local factory owner in the centre of Yekaterinburg in the mid-19th century, welds many an architectural style, and is Yekaterinburg’s prime symbol.

Sevastyanov’s Mansion, Yekaterinburg © Donat Sorokin/ТАSS

The Ural Mountains

The ancient Urals, known for centuries as the “Belt of the Earth,” stretch for more than 2000 km north to south, splitting the continent of Eurasia in two.  

The Urals © Aleksey Shchukin/ТАSS

Europe-Asia Obelisk

Standing right where Europe meets Asia, just outside Yekaterinburg, the Europe-Asia Obelisk has two stones in its foundation. One was brought from Cape Roca, the westernmost point of Europe, the other – from Cape Dezhnev, the easternmost point of continental Asia.  

The sable

The sable, depicted on the Yekaterinburg coat of arms, occurs throughout the Taiga in eastern Russia, from the Urals to the Pacific coast. The sable is a symbol of Siberia.

Nizhny Novgorod © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

Maksim Gorky monument

Maksim Gorky, one of the greatest Soviet writers, was born and raised in Nizhny Novgorod. The city bore his name – Gorky - for nearly 60 years.  

Maksim Gorky monument, Nizhny Novgorod © Vladimir Smirnov/ТАSS

The Oka meets the Volga

Nizhny Novgorod stands at the confluence of the rivers Oka and Volga, which explains why the city has always served as a major inland waterway hub.

The Volga, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast © Vladimir Smirnov/ТАSS

The deer

The red deer on the city’s flag and coat of arms symbolizes the noble heart, purity, greatness, life, wisdom and justice.

Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin

Built in the early 16th century, the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin, or fortress in the middle of town, is the city’s oldest part. They have kept good care of the Kremlin, sustaining it in the near-perfect original condition.  

Rostov-on-Don © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee  

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin

The Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin is the architectural centrepiece of Rostov-on-Don. The chiming of the bells from the cathedral’s belfry was audible from miles away in the 19th century.

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin, Rostov-on-Don © Valery Matitsin/ТАSS

Memorial Stele

This 72-metre stele, bearing a symbolic gold-plated image of the Greek goddess Nike, can be seen, pretty much, from every part of town.   

The memorial stele, Rostov-on-Don © Valery Matitsin/ТАSS

The Troika

Three horses, or the Troika, is a symbol of Russia, epitomizing the history and traditions of southern Russian Cossacks.

Sochi © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee 

The Caucasus Mountains

Due to its “climate clash,” Sochi is this wonderland where you can go downhill skiing on real snow and swim in the warm sea all on the same day.

The Caucasus, Krasnodar Region © Aleksander Demyanchuk/ТАSS

Sochi cableway

Sochi’s world-class ski resorts are part of legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2014, hosted by Sochi.

Sochi ski resorts, Krasnodar Region © Sergei Bobylev/ТАSS

The Black Sea

Sochi, the most popular Black Sea resort in the Krasnodar Region, is Russians’ favourite holiday destination.  

Black Sea dolphins

The friendly dolphin is one of the symbols of Sochi.

Saransk © Russia-2018 Organizing Committee   

Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov

The legendary Russian navy admiral, Theodore Ushakov, spent the last years of his life in Mordovia, and is worshipped as Mordovia’s celestial patron. This church in the centre of Saransk was named in Ushakov’s honour.

Cathedral of St. Theodore Ushakov, Saransk © Stanislav Krasilnikov/ТАSS


St. Alexander Nevsky Chapel

The St. Alexander Nevsky Chapel is one of the landmarks worth seeing in Saransk.  

St. Alexander Nevsky Chapel, Saransk © Stanislav Krasilnikov/ТАSS

The fox

The fox is one of the symbols of Saransk and Mordovia. The red fox is depicted on the coats of arms of both the city and the republic. In heraldry, the fox typically stands for perspicacity and shrewdness.

Full identikits for the host cities is a Russian innovation. In the years past, World Cup host cities were only entitled to official posters and emblems.  

The graphic image of World Cup Russia was displayed for the world to see during the Preliminary Draw in St. Petersburg, in July 2015. Now elements of the tournament’s symbolism can be discerned in the identikits of the individual host cities, each priming itself to host its share of the World Cup games just over two years from now.  



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