When Iranian football fans travel to Russia for the World Cup this summer, one place they will be sure of a specially warm welcome is Kazan.
Kazan is the capital and largest city of the Muslim republic of Tatarstan. It lies at the confluence of Volga and Kazanka rivers in far easternmost Europe on a surface area of 425.3km2.
According to 2016 estimates, Kazan had a population of 1,216,965 with Muslims now making 47.6% of it.
As a Muslim city since the 10th century, the city now has some mosques, the most famous of them is Qolşärif Mosque which was destroyed by the Russian army in 1552 and was rebuilt in 2005. Some other famous mosques in Kazan like Märcani Mosque were built between the 18th and 21st centuries.
Kazan’s main venue for the world cup is Kazan Arena which was erected in 2013 after three years of construction. The stadium has the largest outside screen in Europe, but with a small capacity of 45,379 spectators only.
The arena will host six matches from the groups C, B, H, F, Round 16, and a quarterfinal. Kazan city will also be the hub for the camps of both the Australian and Japanese national teams.