Out on the town: your guide to Rostov-on-Don, the gateway to Russia’s south

Beyond the game
Out on the town: your guide to Rostov-on-Don, the gateway to Russia’s south

One of the most southerly of Russia's World Cup host cities, Rostov-on-Don nestles near the shallow Azov Sea and is just a few miles from the Ukrainian border. While its location imparts some of the charm of the Russian south, it also has a lively cultural scene with music, clubnights and art spaces

7 June 2018
Text: Jamie Brown, Leyly Aslanova

This port city on the ancient Don River, the jumping off point for visiting Russia’s fabled North Caucasus, is a cosmopolitan hub that has plenty on offer if you’re looking to entertain yourself for a few hours before the football. Soak up Rostov-on-Don’s cutting edge contemporary culture in former industrial sites, marvel at its iconic library or climb on a Khrushchev-era bridge to catch one of the spectacular sunsets.

Live it up in the centre of town

The square adjacent to the city’s constructivist masterpiece, Maxim Gorky Rostov Academic Drama Theatre, is one of the city’s main draws. As well as a number of tourist attractions – a ferris wheel and musical fountain – the square is also home to some impressive street art and architecture. Artist Timofey Radya’s enigmatic, text-based poetry adorns the rooftop of a concrete apartment block and metal ornamentations glitter on a Soviet-era business centre.

Taste contemporary art at an old pasta factory

MAKARONKA is a place where anything goes: concerts, club events and workshops as well as difficult-to-categorise avant-garde performances. The venue gets its name from the building’s former life as a pasta factory and since its opening has breathed new life into the Nakhichevan district, a former Armenian town that is now a leafy suburb of Rostov-on-Don.

Address: Ulitsa 18-Ya Liniya, 8

Enjoy the sunset

First opened in 1965, Rostov-on-Don’s Voroshilov Bridge recently underwent a major reconstruction. There is now pedestrian lift access, meaning visitors can use the elevated river crossing to watch ships go by, look out over the city and the new stadium or find the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the old town.

Indulge your ruin-porn impulses

The abandoned 19th century Paramonovsky warehouses are a popular attraction in central Rostov-on-Don. Take a pair of shoes you don’t mind getting dirty and follow a path from Sedova Street down to the warehouses. Recently there was an open-air swimming pool in one part of the ruins, which was organised by local residents who built a dam to divert the water coming over the banks of the Don in spring. People swam in the pool and dived from the three-storey-high walls of the ruined building. Today, the ruins continue to inspire romantic walks, not least thanks to the unique microclimate that means green grass grows all year round.

Address: 27 Nizhnebulvarnaya Street

Soak up the culture at a library landmark

The asymmetrical contrast of the architecture of Publichka (Don State Public Library), with its monolithic book repository towering above a three-storey reading rooms, makes the library a must-see. The building’s totalitarian overtones recede when you immerse yourself in the relaxed atmosphere of evening life, which takes over when locals gather around the nearby fountain. On summery Saturday evenings you might be lucky enough to catch a concert by SSI: Fontan collective. The concerts at Publichka can bring together audiences numbering in the thousands. Exhibitions, lectures and film screenings are also held inside the library. But the library interior is worth a visit in its own right, with a glass ceiling, winter garden, sculptures, pools and fountains.

Address: 175a Pushkin Street

Dance to the freshest sounds in the city

Part of DIY club 16line61, which stands on the territory of a disused factory, is still strewn with the detritus of urban neglect: broken glass, litter and piles of bricks. Inside, the club provides some of the freshest sounds in the city, with lo-fi house, space disco and glitchy IDM all on offer. The space is curated by a former member of Rostov-on-Don’s favourite indie rock group, Motorama. The exposed concrete walls and carpet-free floors maximise the reverberations of the sound system.

Address: 61 16th Liniya Street

Join impromptu street concerts

Once the site of mass protests by railway workers, the Monument to the Strike of 1902 is now a favourite for locals who come to gaze at a panorama of the city located under the monumental Continuity of Generations sculpture. True romantics pull up to the square in their cars to blare out tracks by local heroes including rap artists Kasta, Basta, Pesochnie lyudi and, on occasion, pop singer Sveta.

Address: Ploshchad Stachki 1902 Goda