They say sport and politics should never mix, but as Samara enjoyed a break from World Cup action on Friday, a visit to Joseph Stalin's top-secret bunker was an opportunity not to be missed.
The notorious dictator, who presided over the Soviet Union for 12 years in the mid-20th century, had the hideout constructed in the event of German invasion during World War Two.
Built 37 metres below street level, the bunker consists of a number of rooms - including a private office for the man himself - so that the top officials would have a safe retreat had Adolf Hitler's Nazis reached as far as Moscow.
Although that threat never quite materialised and Stalin remained defiantly in the capital, some of his government leaders were evacuated in 1941 and set up camp in Samara - then known as Kuybyshev - approximately 1,000 kilometres to the south-east.
And 77 years later, on the anniversary of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, football fans from around the world queued up to get a glimpse of the underground hideaway.
Used today’s down time to take in a visit to Stalin’s bunker, built 37 metres underground as a hideout from the threat of German invasion. pic.twitter.com/G1TQIvtfed— Harry West (@West1882) 22 June 2018
Squeezing past each other on the narrow stairways, supporters from Australia - who saw their side draw with Denmark at Samara Arena on Thursday - and Uruguay, who face the hosts at the same venue on Monday, stopped to take pictures of the conference room, Stalin's personal office and other areas adorned with information displays.
Tour guide Helen Konovalova, of the Samara Tourist Board, explained the bunker was kept under such strict secrecy that its existence was only uncovered when the Soviet Union broke up 50 years later.
"This bunker was constructed in top secret so nobody knew about it until 1991, only when the regime changed in our country, and we were really surprised to see such a unique construction in the city centre," she told Omnisport.
"Besides, the bunker still belongs to the army, you can't come just any day you wish and visit it as a museum. You have to book your visit beforehand and get permission to come....only [now people can come] for the FIFA World Cup, so now everybody who wishes can come here and visit the bunker.
"And people who live in Samara, locals, they've heard nowadays everybody can come here so not only foreigners but Russian speaking tourists now come to the bunker."
And Konovalova says the residents of Samara hope the bunker, although an unusual tourist attraction, will inspire people to encourage others to look upon Russia as a destination worth visiting, even after the World Cup bandwagon has packed up and moved on.
"After the World Cup we really hope that people would like to return to our country and our city and tell their relatives and friends that Russia is a good country to go to!" she added.
"The main aim of the bunker is to tell our generation about such a tragic event in our history because we mustn't forget about such events, to prevent our future from such awful things that our politicians sometimes do."
24 de febrero 2019
|Guardiola was criticised early at City – Barkley backs Chelsea boss Sarri|
|Solskjaer hails Pogba´s leadership and focus ahead of Liverpool clash|
|James Harden fined $25k for criticising NBA officials|
|Baddeley hits the front in Puerto Rico|
|Jaguares trump Bulls for first win of Super Rugby season|
|Ivory Coast on brink of qualification, Central African Republic hopes dashed|
|Johnson leads by four at WGC-Mexico Championship|
|Pelicans to rest Davis against Lakers|
|Rockets star Harden to miss Warriors clash|
|Eubank dominates DeGale to claim IBO super-middleweight crown|
|Man United clash will not decide Premier League title – Klopp|
|Solskjaer: Man United must avoid a title drought like Liverpool´s|
|Toulouse extend lead at the top, Stade down La Rochelle|
23 de febrero 2019
|Cruyff instilled Guardiola´s inner belief and desire to win|
|Treviso slay Dragons to go second, Blues stun Edinburgh|
|Tuchel happy with Verratti-Paredes partnership|
|Hodgson never expected to become Premier League´s oldest manager|
|Tigers batter Broncos to go top, Salford storm back to win|
|WATCH: Cantlay goes close to hole-in-one on par four|
|Rafinha confused and disappointed over lack of Bayern Munich opportunities|
|Bayern confirm Coman hamstring tear|
|Puel remaining positive despite Leicester losing again at home|
|Sloane Stephens vents as delayed flight leaves race to reach Acapulco|
|Valverde dismisses Solari complaints over fixture scheduling|
|Van Uytvanck battles into Budapest final|
|Patriots´ Devin McCourty reacts to Robert Kraft´s solicitation charges: ´Let it play out´|
|West Brom 0 Sheffield United 1: Dowell sends Blades back to second|
|Gatland happy for ´special´ Wales to stay under the radar|
|Eddie Jones rues England´s ill-discipline|
|Leicester City 1 Crystal Palace 4: Eagles mark Hodgson milestone with convincing win|
|Mbappe should have scored four or five - Tuchel|
|Sharks down Blues, Stormers clinch it at the last|
|Tsitsipas sets up Kukushkin decider in Marseille|
|Valverde sings Messi´s praises after 50th hat-trick|
|Wolves penalty was cruel on Bournemouth - Howe|
|Ismaily 1 CS Constantine 1: Hamdi own goal denies Egyptians victory|
|Record-breaking Wales fight back to beat England|
|Heidel stepping down as Schalke sporting director|
|Benitez: A great day for Almiron|
|Chiefs pounce on Sarries setback, Quins make it four in a row|
|Paris Saint-Germain 3 Nimes 0: Mbappe reaches Ligue 1 milestone|
|Kovac waiting on Coman tests after winger lasts nine minutes against Hertha|
|Championship Review: Leeds, Norwich both win|
|Messi insists LaLiga is not over despite downing Sevilla with 50th career hat-trick|
|Brilliant Bencic outlasts Kvitova to complete week of Dubai upsets|
|Sevilla 2 Barcelona 4: Messi hat-trick saves LaLiga leaders|
|Bournemouth 1 Wolves 1: King goes from penalty hero to villain|
|Newcastle United 2 Huddersfield Town 0: Magpies four clear of drop as Almiron sparkles|
|Zazai and Afghanistan smash records galore in thumping victory over Ireland|
|Dyche: Burnley have restored key core values|
|Kohli warns India over ´bad habits´ in IPL|
|Bayern Munich 1 Hertha Berlin 0: Martinez sends champions level at top|
|France bounce back as Scotland suffer familiar Paris pain|
|It was obvious! - Lloris furious at Dean decision|
|Maybe the cables crossed in my brain - Pochettino explains Dean row|
|Captaining Ireland an incredible honour - O´Mahony|
|Zazai´s 162 leads Afghanistan to record T20I total|
|Benitez: Ashley and I need to be on the same page|
|Burnley 2 Tottenham 1: Barnes hits late winner after Kane´s goalscoring return|
|Simeone has no gripe with Ronaldo over Atletico Madrid insult|
|Icardi remains sidelined for Inter´s Fiorentina trip|
|Sangakkara leads Sri Lanka plaudits after historic triumph|
|Solari still committed to LaLiga title race|
|Allegri calls on Juventus to ´do something extraordinary´ after Atletico loss|
|DeRozan humbled by reception on bittersweet Raptors return|
|Du Plessis laments lacklustre Proteas display|
|Hard work pays off for Karunaratne´s Sri Lanka|
|De Laurentiis aims jibe at Juventus and Ronaldo|
|BREAKING NEWS: Kane returns for Spurs at Burnley|
|Champions Crusaders outclass Hurricanes|