Sochi (1,600 kilometers pretty much due south of Moscow and 25 kilometers from the border of Georgia) is Russia's most popular Black Sea resort and the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Stretching for nearly 20 kilometers along the Black Sea coast, it has many pebbly beaches, hotels and campgrounds. The spas are famous for their silt mud baths and the water at the beaches is plenty warm enough for swimming in the summer months and bearable in the late spring and early fall.

Sochi encompasses the Dagomys resort and is home to around 370,000 permanent residents. Many Soviet Kremlin leaders, including Stalin, had homes or luxurious dachas here. After the Crimean peninsula became part of the Ukraine all the Russian big shots are coming to Sochi. Russian President Vladimir Putin is aid to have built himself a massive St. Petersburg-scale palace in Sochi

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin perhaps more than anyone helped to put Sochi on the map. He spent a lot of time there and ordered “all-union construction” and began a rapid development of the resort. Joshua Yaffa wrote in the New York Times: “Under the Tsar, aristocratic Russians flocked to the subtropical area around Sochi for rest and curative dips in local mineral springs. In 1919, as civil war raged, Lenin aimed to turn the city into a Soviet workers’ paradise, ordering the construction of dozens of grand health spas, or sanatoriums. Later, Sochi became a favorite destination for Stalin, whose massive villa, built in 1937, is now a private hotel and museum.” [Source: Joshua Yaffa, New York Times, November 14, 2008]

Sochi is one of the main resorts in Russia and the long-time favorite of tourists. Since the Winter Olympics in 2014, it has become even a bigger and a bigger draw. The Krasnaya Polyana mountain resort and the Imereti Lowlands resort were built. Lovers of winter sports come here from December to March for snowboarding, Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, skating and other wintersports.

Sochi is the most stretched city in Russia. By some reckonings it is more than 145 kilometers long. People call it the summer capital due to the developed beaches that lie along the Black sea coast. The urban area of Big Sochi is divided into four districts: Adlersky, Hostinsky, Central and Lazarevsky. Putin lives the place and has helped to turn it into one of the largest culture and economic centers of Russia. In2013, Forbes magazine said Sochi was the best city for doing business in Russia.

Sochi is the only city in the Russian Federation that lies within what some say is the moist subtropical zone. The average temperature in the summer is 26.5ºC. The Black Sea water temperature at that time is as warms as to 24.5º C. During the 2014 Winter Olympic Games some attention was drawn to the fact there was no snow in Sochi itself; the snow was in the mountains that surround the city

Most visitors fly to Sochi through Moscow or St. Petersburg. A round-trip ticket from Moscow on one of the larger Russian airlines, such as Aeroflot starts at around US$150. Central Sochi is relatively compact and many destinations can be reached on foot. For trips into the mountains or further down the beach, local buses and taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

Development for the Sochi Olympics

Joshua Yaffa wrote in the New York Times: “In July 2007, Sochi, a Russian resort on the Black Sea, was awarded the 2014 Winter Olympics, and in the year since, bureaucrats and investors have flocked to the city. Sochi has long been a favorite recreation spot of Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s prime minister, and his promise to invest US$12 billion of government money in developing the region played a large role in bringing the Winter Games to a faded Soviet-era beach town. [Source: Joshua Yaffa, New York Times, November 14, 2008]

“On top of the mountain, Mr. Makarenko showed me Mr. Putin’s favorite trail. In April, the prime minister came to visit the newly opened ski resort. “He skied there,” Mr. Makarenko said, pointing to a slope of dirt and unkempt grass. “And there, there too, and there, also there.” “I was tired, I couldn’t keep up,” he said. “What a tempo!”Mr. Putin’s frenetic pace on the slopes is matched, if not surpassed, by the hurried schedule of development along the waterfront. The goal, Russian government officials insist, is not only to ready Sochi for the Olympics, but to transform the town into a Mediterranean-style tourist resort as well. A new international airport will open soon, and along the water, glass-fronted condominiums are popping up daily. As one local restaurant manager told me, “The government wants to turn Sochi into its own little Monaco.”

“In building the new Sochi, the state is relying on huge investments from Russia’s largest businessmen, the billionaire metals and energy oligarchs who maintain a symbiotic, and at times impossible to parse, network of relationships and favors with the Kremlin. It remains unclear how the financial crisis will affect costly development plans for Sochi, though a shrinking credit market and falling oil prices have already begun to eat into state budget projections and the personal fortunes of the country’s most wealthy.

“In addition to the Gazprom-funded ski resort, there is an alpine facility being built by Vladimir O. Potanin, a metals magnate. Oleg V. Deripaska, a 40-year-old post-Soviet billionaire close to Mr. Putin, is investing in Sochi’s new airport, and the nearby Olympic Village. “These men are big patriots,” Oleg V. Yasyuk, the city’s deputy mayor, told me in his office.”

“On my last day in town, I took a taxi to Imeretinskaya Bukhta, a quiet beachfront village 30 minutes away from Sochi’s clogged boardwalk. According to plans released by the committee organizing the Sochi Games, it will be the site of the future Olympic Park, combining open promenades with housing for athletes and other guests. At first, everyone in town welcomed the Olympics, and the development they would surely bring. “We were happy,” said Vladimir Boldeskul, a local who said he thought of opening a small hotel on his family’s land. “But we never thought it would end in this.”

“This summer, residents, Mr. Boldeskul included, starting receiving notices that their property was in the future construction zone, and would be taken by the state. How much they would receive in compensation, and where they would be resettled, has not yet been made clear. Mr. Boldeskul was standing in front of his half-finished house, which he had started in 2004, but had abandoned after it became increasingly likely that it would be confiscated by the government. His 60-year-old mother, Vera, who lives on the next plot, came walking over. “I’m sure the bulldozers will come and push us all out,” she said, “and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to get them to give me my three kopeks.”“

Tourism in Sochi

Joshua Yaffa wrote in the New York Times: “With cheap, visa-free travel, Sochi draws most of its guests from Russia’s comparatively less cosmopolitan regions, and for this, the city ends up offering a more diverse and true picture of today’s Russia than a short trip to Moscow or St. Petersburg. In a few days on the beach, I met a bomber pilot, a young married couple from the Ural Mountains and a middle-aged woman who works as an engineer on an oil field near the Arctic. As a local tour guide told me, rising income in the provinces means Russian visitors have become more “inquisitive.” They hire guides to take them to waterfalls in the mountains, and book Western-style spa treatments. Plus, for Russians, compared to a beach vacation in some foreign country, she said, “it’s easier on the soul.” [Source: Joshua Yaffa, New York Times, November 14, 2008]

“One afternoon, I had a walk around the Grand Hotel Rodina, a boutique hotel fashioned out of an old Soviet-era sanatorium for cosmonauts and Communist Party apparatchiks, which Mr. Deripaska renovated a couple of years ago at great expense. I sat on a cafe balcony overlooking the hotel’s private beach, and slowly drank a fresh apple-carrot juice. It was late in the day, and the sun was starting to fall over the horizon, shifting color from white to yellow to deep orange. After a while, I was joined by Veronika Turenok, the hotel’s dining director. She told me about the kind of Russian guest who stays at the hotel, where a night in an ocean-view suite costs US$1,000 or more. “These are people who have been everywhere,” she said. “They’ve seen a lot, tried a lot.”

“On my way out, I was stopped by hotel security, who told me that my behavior was “mysterious” and “strange.” What happened next was even stranger. A guard led me to a group of policemen stationed just outside the hotel gates, where I was questioned for more than an hour about what exactly I was doing at the Rodina that afternoon. They examined the photos on my camera, and tried to make sense of the scribbled handwriting in my notebook. This would have to be resolved at the station. I took a seat in the back of a police jeep, and we drove, with the blue light flashing, down to the local militsia precinct. After another round of questions, I was told I could go, as soon as the cops made a photocopy of my passport. The police station didn’t have a copy machine of its own, so we had to go to an internet cafe down the street.

“It was a random and unlucky encounter. But as I walked back to my hotel, I had a hard time imagining Sochi’s future as a European beach resort, and beyond that as host of perhaps the world’s highest profile sporting event. I have never been to St.-Tropez, or Lillehammer for that matter, but something tells me that there, an afternoon spent sipping fresh juice at an expensive hotel cafe doesn’t usually end with a police interrogation.

“From the Boldeskuls’ house, the Black Sea is a couple of minutes’ walk away, where tourists looking to avoid Sochi’s crowds come for a quiet place to tan. On the other side, farther down the horizon, are the tops of the green mountain ridges of Krasnaya Polyana, where Gazprom is building its ski resort. “Who would ever want to leave such a beautiful place?” asked Alek Lee, a homeowner who lives nearby, and who has led local protests against the state’s housing grab. I looked over at the sea, glowing a silvery blue in the late afternoon sunlight, and then at the Russian families walking away from the shore, smelling of saltwater and holding inflatable toys, and had to agree.”

Entertainment and Sports in Sochi

Entertainment places in Sochi include aquaparks, cinemas, amusement parks, concert halls, theaters, nightclubs and discos. Fisht stadium is a multifunctional sports and entertainment center, with 45,000 seats. At the heart of the architectural project are images of seashells and snowy peaks. Located in the Imereti lowland area, it hosted 2018 World Cup group stage, round of 16 and quarter-finals matches. In addition to soccer games, the stadium hosts other sports competitions and mass celebrations.

Joshua Yaffa wrote in the New York Times: “One Saturday night I went to Platforma, a nightclub built to resemble an offshore oil rig that stands in the water just off of Sochi’s boardwalk. Serge Faberge, a 36-year-old club promoter who returned to Russia this year after living for nearly a decade in Amsterdam, was busy getting a group of dancers into place onstage. He had a shaved head and was dressed in white, with a pastel-colored ascot tucked in between his open shirt buttons. “We are trying to get Nelly,” he told me, his voice rising over the pounding bass. “I want it to be show, show, show!” [Source: Joshua Yaffa, New York Times, November 14, 2008]

“It was a little before 1 in the morning, and onstage, Vika Kova, a D.J. from the Netherlands, was playing a loud set of house music for the tanned and heavily made-up crowd. Beneath the see-through dance floor, a trio of girls in bikinis wriggled around on giant inflatable pillows that bobbed in the sea. Standing near the bar was David Markozov, a Russian-born Formula Three racecar driver, who had recently bought an apartment in Sochi, and had flown in for the weekend from Moscow. “Here,” he told me, “You’ve got everything from the wildest chaos to the finest glamour.”

“Despite all the development, Sochi still feels like a kaleidoscopic version of Coney Island, all juiced up on lukewarm vodka and sunburned potbellies, and that can either be part of its charm or the one thing that keeps it from being a truly relaxing place to spend a few days. The Mediterranean-style glamour that Mr. Markozov mentioned, at least for now, can be frustratingly elusive, sprinkled around at places like Platforma and Sinee More, or the Blue Sea, a restaurant with white tablecloths and a sleek wooden deck that looks out onto the water. With its poor roads and gruff service, Sochi can often seem less like the heart of the new Russian Riviera, and more like the Soviet package-tour destination it once was.

Sights in Sochi

Sights in Sochi and the surrounding area include the nice beach at Dagomys Resort, the Central Market in Sochi town center, the Sochi Art Museum, the Town History Museum and the Arboretum (with 1,500 species of trees and plants from all over the world). There are also a number if theaters, discos and concert halls that offer entertainment in the summer.

Sochi Park is the first Russian heritage theme park. A single ticket allows you to go anywhere in the park and go on any of rides without restriction. There are five theme areas, starting at the entrance with the Alley of Lights. Located in the land of science and fiction, Quantum Leap is the fastest and highest roller coaster extreme hill in Russia. You can also take a dive on the wings of the fabulous Firebird, the most thrilling free fall tower in Russia, and wander around the Charmed Forest and meet Gorynych the dragon and other amazing characters from favorite Russian fairy tales and Pushkin’s children’s stories. The in Eco-village is a quite place to chill.

Museums in Sochi include the 1) Electric Nikola Tesla Museum, an interactive exhibition for children and adults with an animated film about Tesla; 2) Mechanical Museum of Leonardo Da Vinci, with working models and mechanisms such as a perpetual motion machine and glider, assembled by Russian historians and restorers according to the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci; 3) Exhibition of Robotic Dinosaurs; and 4) the Sochi Sport Auto Museum, with 50 racing and sports cars. 5) Sochi Museum of Vintage Cars contains vintage Soviet-era cars such as the Volga. There are more than a hundred cars, from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Lookout Tower on Mount Akhun: Mount Ahun is the highest mountain in Sochi proper Situated close to the sea, it is 663 meters (2,175 feet) high. At the top of the mountain is an observation tower built on Stalin's orders. Stalin once visited the mountain and was so impressed with the views from the mountain, he ordered the construction of the tower, but in the end never visited it. A picturesque 11-kilometer road climbs the mountain. The 30-meter-high tower is made of rough-processed limestone. The observation deck is reached by a spiral staircase. In good weather you can make out places 70 kilometers away.

Olympic Park in Sochi

The Olympic Park in Sochi (30 minutes from central Sochi) was one of the main facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Covering 50 hectares, it is home to the sports facilities that hosted competitions in ice hockey, speed-skating and short-track speed-skating, figure skating, and curling, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games.

The biggest facility of Olympic Park is Fisht Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies of the 22nd Olympic Winter Games were held. The other sports facilities in the cluster are arena for competitions conducted on ice. The second largest sports facility in the Park, with a capacity of 12,000 spectators, is the Bolshoi Ice Dome, where ice hockey matches were held. Olympic Park also includes: the Iceberg Skating Palace, the Shayba Arena (Maly Ice Palace), the Adler Arena covered Skating Center, Ice Cube Curling Arena, two training arenas, and a medals plaza for award ceremonies.

Today Olympic Park is the place of activity and fun. Its slogan is “The Territory of Active Life”. There is an extreme-sports park with bicycles and segways available for rent. Near Olympic Park there is a new embankment with a bicycle path that stretches for six kilometers along the sea. Within Olympic Park you can visit the unique Nikola Tesla Electricity Museum and Vehicle Museum of the Soviet era, where it is possible to see rare old cars.

The Cup of the Olympic Flame fountain is located in the Central Square of Olympic Park. Built for the 2014 Olympics, the light and music fountain has over 240 mini-guns, six hyper-guns, a water-fog system, 12 robots with radial pullers, thousands of stroboscopes and color projectors for creating a dramatic and dynamic water and light shows. All of the high-tech equipment for the fountain is hidden underground: fog generators, powerful pumps, water treatment plants, and machines for pressed air storage have the capacity to hold and process 2000 tonnes of water.

Stalin’s Dacha

Green Grove (in Sochi) is a dacha where Joseph Stalin used to vacation. Visitors can sleep in the dictator's bedroom for US$300 night and have their picture taken next to a life-size wax figure of Stalin, take a mineral bath or check out Stalin memorabilia like a pen set that was given to him by Mao Zedong. The dacha is open for visits from tour groups.

Built in 1937, Stalin’s dacha is still one of the most popular places in Sochi. The dacha is located on the top of the mountain ridge between the valley Matsestinskaya and the gorge Agurskoye. Here you can enjoy a breath-taking, view over the snow-capped mountains of the Main Caucasus Ridge and the Black Sea. In 30s and 40s this area was used as a holiday spot by political leaders. Stalin’s dacha was built just in a place called Zelyonaya roshcha.

Stalin ruled a long time and he used the dacha for a long period of time. The dacha is well-preserved today. The external decorations and interior have remained as they were in Stalin’s time. Inside you can see Stalin’s desk, the carpet he walked on, his family pictures, leather sofa and fireplace. As a rule, Stalin often visited the dacha in autumn, while his family used to come here in the summer. The ground floor in the cinema hall there is his wax figure that depicts him sitting at the desk in uniform, with a pipe in his hand. Here you can also see Stalin’s famous sofa, which was made to his own measurements, billiard table, and personal belongings such as his chess set. A portrait of Stalin hangs in the boardroom. You can have a meal at "Stalin's Dacha" restaurant

Visiting Stalin’s Dacha

Dan Wolken wrote in USA TODAY: “He was only about 5-5-give or take an inch, since the historical accounts vary — and if you think a detail like that doesn't matter in understanding the mentality of a tyrant, Joseph Stalin's summer house is practically a monument to short man syndrome. Winding into a hillside near downtown Sochi and hidden by thick trees, "Green Grove," the dacha where Stalin spent three of four months...until his death in 1953, is indeed one strange dictator's den. "He wasn't a simple person," said Anna Hovantseva, who gave some American reporters a tour of the place and a history lesson. [Source: Dan Wolken, USA TODAY. Feb. 20, 2014]

“From the tiny steps leading up to the second floor, to his private pool that was only 5-feet deep, to the small army cot in which he slept, many of Stalin's peculiarities are on display just a few miles away from where the Winter Olympics are being held. And though it's eerie and unpleasant in many ways, since the Stalin regime was responsible for the genocide of perhaps 20 million people, it's also important history and context. Because without Stalin's love for Sochi and this blissful plot of land where the mountain air and the Black Sea air meet, it's not a stretch to say there would be no Olympics here 60 years after his reign.

“Even so, the legacy of Stalin is so conflicted that Vladimir Putin has never stepped foot in Green Grove, as the symbolism would be too controversial even for a powerful and popular president. "He created a great country, but as far as the message of his power is concerned, it is very, very disputed," Hovantseva said. "Part of our people think Stalin is a great figure in our history, and the other part thinks he's a criminal."

“For most people, though, Stalin's hideaway is just a tourist attraction and even a hotel, where visitors can sleep in the same rooms as the man who built the Soviet industrial complex and engaged the Cold War. It is also a curiosity, each detail shedding light on Stalin's paranoia and insecurity. He demanded that the property be painted pea green so that it would blend into the forest. It was constructed without metal nails; only wood and glue, per Stalin's instructions. Carpets were nowhere to be found because he wanted to hear footsteps of intruders. Ceilings were built high to accommodate for the fact that he spoke softly. He worked at night from an office with a phone connected directly to Moscow and slept during the day, changing rooms three-to-four times so that nobody would know where he was.

“And this dacha was really no different than the other six he built, which seems like an awful lot of prosperity for a man who purported to believe in a social system without class distinctions. If nothing else, it's one of the few real-life relics left in Sochi from Communist times and a piece of history just as complex as the Olympic host country itself.”

My Russia Cultural and Ethnographic Center

My Russia Cultural and Ethnographic Center is family-oriented tourist park and ensemble of buildings from various regions of Russia, including the Caucasus and Siberia. There is a tower from Kazan and a mansion from St. Petersburg. Every building is built taking into account cultural, historical and architectural features of the region. All have an information board. In which you can learn useful information about the architecture of Russia.

The architectural ensemble consists of 11 building, representing different time periods as well as regions. Inside them are workshops, exhibition halls, restaurants and snack places featuring national cuisines. More than 50 artists from all over the country working here in the tourist season and teaching visitors about pottery making, blacksmithing, woodworking, making traditional toys, mural painting, gingerbread baking and weaving traditional shoes.

The park boasts the only icon-painting workshop in Sochi, a museum of folk crafts, art galleries, a game animation playground for children, a belfry, a yurt, tasty folk cuisine, and a fair. Check out the Suzdal and Caucasus areas, During holidays groups perform folk songs and dances. The walking path going to all the buildings is about one kilometer long. There are four ethnographic hotels with 31 rooms. "My Russia" is surrounded by the beautiful nature of the Sochi National Park: canyons, waterfalls, mountain rivers and streams, lush vegetation and relict forests.

Bringing Down the House (with My Russia) is a touristy place with an upside down room, with beds and tables at the top and lights at the bottom. The One-storey house consists of five rooms: living room, bedroom, nursery, kitchen and bathroom, all upside down.

Sochi Discovery World Aquarium and Oceanarium

Sochi Discovery World Aquarium and Oceanarium compete with the best aquariums in the world. Covering an area of 6000 square meters, with 30 aquariums and 5 million gallons of water, it is home to about 4,000 fish representing more than 200 marine and freshwater species. The main aquarium has 24 square meters acrylic window and 44-meter-long acrylic tunnel.

The first exhibition is devoted to ancient species of fish called "period of ancient sea," with themed murals and three-dimensional models. There are aquariums with goldfish, carp ("koi"), massive Arowana, piranhas, pacu and other freshwater fish. One of the features of this area is a picturesque waterfall that can be seen from the bridge that goes across the pond. A special exhibition is devoted to rare species of fish such as Chinese paddlefish and sturgeon.

Going down the stairs you enter the ocean world, focused on two tanks. One is devoted to coral reefs and coastal shallows and rocks. Here you can find morays eels, wrasses, dangerous and poisonous fish, seahorses, jellyfish and live coral. The most impressive part of the oceanarium is massive tank that you can walk through inside a transparent acrylic tunnel. Inside in sunken ship and a mermaid. The journey ends in the aquarium lagoon, inhabited by stingrays and small sea fish.

Sochi Beaches

The Sochi resort area and its accompanying strip of Black Sea coast extends for 145 kilometers and by one count has 177 mostly pebbly beaches. There are 77 municipal beaches open to all, many with rental services offering beach equipment, motorboat, pedal boats, motorcycles, water skiing, banana boats and tablets. Some of large resorts and sanatoriums have private beaches. All resort areas have passages to the sea. Some large resorts are equipped with funiculars and elevators that deliver visitors to the beach. The Imereti lowland beach strip is fairly wide and located close to the Olympic Park. There is a nice beach at Dagomys Recreation Comple, one of the most famous resorts of the Black Sea coast of Russia.

Wide Beam Beach is a half kilometer long and quite wide. The water here is nice blue but the beach is often crowded and noisy. You can rent deck chairs, and jet skis and go on a catamaran or banana boat ride. It is also possible to go paragliding or scuba diving. There are snack bars, cafes and bars right on the beach.

Durso Beach area (seven kilometers from of Abrau) is flanked on both sides by cliffs, beyond which begins a series of wild beaches. Beach Durso is covered with pebbles and fully equipped for vacationers. The sea is clean, clear, without algae. Beach Durso itself is small in size and located around a same river with the same name. The beach covers an area of 5000 square meters, and is 20 meters wide and 250 meters long.

Near Sochi

Among the sights near Sochi are tea farms, waterfalls, gorges and hiking areas in the eastern Caucasus mountains. The Krasnaya Polyana mountain resort and the Imereti Lowlands resort area were built for the Winter Olympics. From December to March you can snowboard, ski and enjoy cross country skiing here. Lake Kardyvach situated at an altitude 1838 meters in the Caucasus Mountains. Yew-Boxwood Grove has been called a living museum as some of relict vegetation found here is almost unchanged from prehistoric times.

Amfibius Waterpark is one of the largest water parks in Sochi. It has 15 water attractions, including water slides, suitable for both adults and children. Water Area Dolphinarium is located in one of the most beautiful places on the Black Sea coast. Riviera Dolphinarium is the largest in Russia. It can sea 1,300 people. The pool size is 35 by 15 meters.

The Mountain of Eden tourist complex is situated at an altitude of 200 meters above the Black Sea. The Wolnica Ethnographic Complex introduces visitors to rural life and folk traditions. Captive Complex wildlife is near Sochi Caucasus biosphere reserve and contains regional wild animals in areas close to their natural habitats. Medical Primatology Institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences was established in the former Soviet scientists of the Adler Research Institute. Cave

Ruins of a Byzantine Church

Ruins of a Byzantine Church (in the village Lazarevskoe Loo district of Sochi) are dated to the 11th-12th centuries preserved. The walls are made of sandstone and shale. They are almost completely preserved, though overgrown with trees and bushes. The narrow, arched window openings are made of limestone shell slabs and slabs. Excavations revealed fragments of greenish-blue windowpane.

The outer side of the church walls have preserved lining in some places with block placements that show how the building was constructed. During the building operation rows of facing blocks formed the outer surface. There are also remains of reddish-colored tiled floors.

According to the findings Looskoy archaeological expedition of 1987-1997 years, the church was first built in the 10th-12th centuries. In the 14th century. it was restored, but was not used in the liturgical order for long. In 15th-16th centuries. it was converted into a fortress. Lazarevskoye is also the home of home of an ethnographic museum founded in 1985.

Sochi National Park and Its Persian Leopards

Sochi National Park (around Sochi) was established on May 1983 and is the second oldest national park in Russia. Covers 1,937 square kilometers (748 square miles) within the Western Caucasus UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park occupies the Greater Sochi area, from the border with the Tuapsinsky District, between the mouths of Shepsi River and Magri River in the north-west, to the border with Abkhazia along the Psou River in the south-east, and between the Black Sea to the water divide crest of the Greater Caucasus. [Source: Wikipedia]

With its territory, the park does not include the areas of settlement, such as the city of Sochi and various urban and rural settlements. The area of the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is also distinct. Immediately to the north is the Caucasus Nature Reserve. There are many natural sights with in the park. Dagomys Troughs are rock formations nine kilometers from the picturesque village of Dagomys. The water route through Gorge Ah-tsuon Mzymta river can be done on in kayaks and rafts. Notable waterfalls include Agura, Orekhovsky, Ivanovsky, and Polikarya, as well as the Valley of 33 Falls

In 2009, a Persian leopard reintroduction center was created in Sochi National Park, where two male leopards from Turkmenistan have been kept since then. Two females from Iran have lived there since May 2010. The plane is to release their descendants into the wild in the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve. In 2012, a pair of Persian leopards were brought to the Sochi National park from Portugal's Lisbon Zoo. In July 2013, the pair had a litter, the first Persian Leopard cubs known to be born in Russia in 50 years. The cubs will be released into the wild after learning survival skills from their parents, according to Natalia Dronova, the WWF-Russia species coordinator.

Canyons in the Sochi Area

Canyon "Devil's Gate" is located in Yew-Boxwood grove area at the confluence of the East and West Hosts rivers. This river canyon has vertical walls up to 50 meters high. In some places the canyon is only five meters wide. An area with rare pre-Ice Age plants canyon stretches for 250 meters.

Crab Gorge is so called because of the freshwater crabs found in its mountain stream. Svirsky gorge near Lazarevskoye village. The road to the gorge is marked with paint on boulders, gravel and trees. Psaho Canyon is actually two canyons: Mokryi (Wet) and Sukhoi (Dry). Mokryi is 1.5 to 10 meters wide; for 2 kilometers there are karst channels and baths.

Cool Canyon is surrounded on three sides by picturesque spurs of the Main Caucasus ridge. Navalischenskoe gorge is formed by the eastern Khost river. The gorge is 3-4 meters wide and 14-15 meters high. White Hall Mamedov gorge is comprised of Cretaceous period limestone. Above the trail is a scenic 15-meter-high, three-stage waterfall.

Waterfalls in the Sochi Area

33 waterfall is located in the 39 block Golovinskiy forest area of Sochi National Park, four kilometers from the village. Big Kichmay. Zmeykovskie Waterfalls is located on twisty river called the snake. Miracle Beauty Waterfall is so because of it clean water and scenic surroundings.

Untitled Waterfall is located on the southern slope of Aibga in the upper reaches of the river Bezymyanka four kilometers north of the village of Aibga. It is one of the highest waterfalls in the Sochi area. Nadzhigo Waterfalls and Gorge on the Kumyshtepe river is 32 meters high and steep falling water. Further upstream there are 13 low falls ranging in height from five to eight 8 meters. ,

Psydah and Shapsug Waterfalls are located in the forest area of Sochi National Park about 5 kilometers from Kalezh village. Maiden's Tears Waterfall is situated just outside the Chvizhepse village, six kilometers from of Krasnaya Polyanana village. Sparkling Waterfall is of 18 meters high and situated in the forest area of Maryinskiy Sochi National Park, two kilometers from Thagapsh village. Deep Yar Waterfall is located near the mouth of river by the same name, the left tributary of the Mzymta river, not far from the observation deck of the gorge Ah-Tsu. The water fall is 41.5 meters high

Sanatoriums in the Sochi Area

In the Soviet era, sanatoriums — where people generally drank or bathed in waters said to have curative effects — were one of Sochi’s main draws. Sanatorium "Turquoise" is extremely compact, in the center of of Lazarevskoye village, in an area of beautiful, evergreen trees. The Chemitokvadzhe Military Sanatorium offers spa treatments with"Lazarus" mineral water and mud baths.

Aqualoo Clinical Sanatorium Complex features iridology, a unique method of rapidly diagnosis and assessing the condition of the body as a whole. Rus Joint Sanatorium one of the biggest sanatorium resorts on Sochi. Aurora Sanatorium is situated between the Central and the Adler district s of Sochi, in the center of the cozy village of Khost. The Progress Clinical Sanatorium offers massages and baths with bromine iodine, pearl, medicinal plant extracts and Tambukansky silt mud.

Belarus Sanatorium is the oldest health resort town, It belongs to the Main Office of the Republic of Belarus President Administration. Wave Sanatorium is located on a 5.3 hectare property in the lovely village Host (Khostinsky area Sochi) in a quiet bay 300 meters from the sea. Blue Hill Sanatorium is licensed to conduct 44 different types of medical activity.

Trying a Sochi Sanatorium

Matsesta is one of Sochi’s largest and most famous spa complexes. It is located on the sea. On his experience there, Joshua Yaffa wrote in the New York Times: “Today, many of the sanatoriums in Sochi are still run by state agencies and large factories, and it can be hard for outsiders to book a room. More accessible is Matsesta, a palatial complex of mineral baths in the foothills just outside of town. In order to take the waters at Matsesta, you first have to see the doctor, which is how I ended up sitting in the office of Dr. Igor Shkrabatovsky. “Look around,” he told me, waving his hands down the long corridor. “It’s more of a hospital than a spa.” He had a round, pink face mostly covered by a pair of thick eyeglasses. A recent issue of Playboy lay upside down on his desk. “It’s medicine, not pleasure,” he said. [Source: Joshua Yaffa, New York Times, November 14, 2008]

“He told me about the soldiers who were treated here, and about how Leonid I. Brezhnev, the stiff-jointed Soviet leader who was often the subject of jokes for his geriatric behavior, was a frequent visitor. The sulfuric waters at Matsesta, the doctor said, are especially effective in treating joint ailments and a range of skin problems. I asked if I would feel anything after one session in the mineral baths. He laughed. “For what?” he said. “If you take a pill once, will you get better?”

“Undiscouraged, I handed my doctor’s note to a nurse. She sent me to Office No. 7, a small room with two bathtubs, and a row of windows that looked out onto a sunny, green courtyard. The exact color and mineral composition of the water varies day by day, depending on the weather and a bunch of other factors. Today, it was jet black, and smelled like rotten eggs.“Take off your swimsuit,” a nurse warned. “Otherwise it will turn black.” She flipped over an hourglass, and left the room. I slid into the tub, resting my head on the cold porcelain.

“I didn’t feel particularly healed, but I didn’t feel any worse either, which itself seemed like a small victory. In the main hall, a hushed, cavernous space lined with tall columns, a handful of people filled plastic bottles with mineral water — not the funky black stuff that came out of the faucets, but a soft, slightly salty water, plastunskaya, also famous for its supposed restorative powers.”

Gorky Gorod Ski Resort

The Gorky Gorod all-season and mountain resort is located in the foothills of the Main Caucasian ridge in Krasnaya Polyana of Bolshoi Sochi. Gorky Gorod is not just a ski resort. It is a city where hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over Russia and abroad vacation during the year. The resort is divided into four levels: 1) beginning at 540 meters:Lower City; 2) 960 to 1,500 meters: Upper City; 3) 1500 and 2200 meters, with cable cars, ski slopes, sightseeing objects and routes. 4) The highest point is the Black Pyramid at 2375 meters.

The lower and upper cities city are connected by roads and cable cars. Ten thousand people can simultaneously stay at the resort and use its services at one time. Accommodation is provided in 11 facilities with a total capacity of 3070 rooms. The capacity of hotels and apartments for lodging is 6 500 people. The Gorky Gorod Mall shopping and entertainment center has specialized shops, a water park with a sandy beach, a movie theater, bowling alleay, billiards, SPA centers, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, gyms, a medical center, children's clubs and gardens.

Lower City boasts are a shopping gallery, a multifunctional entertainment center (formerly a media center), sports complexes, a fair, shops, a water park and playgrounds. Upper City is quieter and more European. There are hotels, low-rise townhouses and chalets. The hotels have their own entrances to the ski area, and there's a cable car station on the main square. There are restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as venues for cultural and sporting events.

The resort has ski slopes of varying difficulty from with a total length of about 30 kilometers of trails. The illuminated area has 3.1 kilometers of trails from 1500 meters to 960 meters. There are 4.9 kilometers of pistes with artificial snow from 1500 meters to 960 meters, with 70 snow cannons. There are 11 gondola and chair type lifts with capacity of 2400 people per hour, three ski schools, a children's ski club, and five ski equipment rentals. The largest spring snowboarding camp in the country, New Star Camp, was launched here in 2014.

The resort supports the idea of active recreation in the mountains both in the winter and in the summer. Therefore, a variety of activities are available for guests all year round. Gorky Bike Park is a complex of trails for high-speed descent on mountain bikes from a height of about 1000 meters. For mountain bike training, there are a wooden and earthen pump track and a wooden skill park. Hiking routes of different difficulty levels, ATV tours and rafting along the mountain river are conducted in the adjoining territory at altitudes from 2300 meters to 960 meters above sea level. For those who like to contemplate the beauty of the mountains and enjoy the cleanest air, there is a resort ski lifts tour to the 2300-meter mark above sea level. Another fun activity is a rope adventure park at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level with a separate children's route.

Rosa Khutor Resort

Rosa Khutor (40-minute drive away from Sochi International Airport) is a year-round alpine resort The total length of the ski slopes at the Rosa Khutor resort in the 2016-2017 winter season was 94 kilometers. The maximum height of the lift is 2474 meters, the height difference on the tracks is 1534 meters. Excellent quality of skiing is provided by the modern system of artificial snow making of the slopes — there are 404 stationary and 25 mobile snow cannons on the area of more than 100 hectares. Because of this, the ski season lasts until April, depending on the height of the slopes. And the properties of the coastal subtropical climate make the snow of the resort especially soft and fluffy.

The uniqueness of the Rosa Khutor ski complex is proven by a wide variety of slopes and skiing areas. Visitors have both gently sloping “green” routes and the “black” Olympic descents at their disposal. The resort has a ski school, a children's club and ski and snowboard equipment rental. The resort is equipped with the most modern equipment of the ski industry, including high-speed lifts, produced by world leaders in this industry — the Doppelmayr and Leither-Poma companies. At a height drop of 1745 meters, access to the top of the slope takes only 25 minutes.

The Rosa Khutor Resort offers a variety of opportunities for recreation: restaurants and cafes for every taste and wallet, nightclubs and karaoke rooms, boutiques of famous brands and shops with locally produced goods, spa and wellness centers, an indoor ice rink with a full-size hockey arena. There are six hotels of different categories on the banks of the Mzymta River in the Rosa Valley (560-meter height). Five ski in/ski out hotels are available for visitors in walking distance from the ski lifts and ski slopes on the Rosa Plateau. There are also an apartment complex and 11 chalets.

Rosa Khutor is perfect for active summer holidays as well. Now you don't have to choose between a vacation in the mountains and a beach vacation, the resort has its own equipped beach in the Imereti Bay that works from June to September. Thanks to the free shuttle service, you can get from Rosa Khutor to the beach by a comfortable bus in just 45 minutes.

In addition, you can make a spectacular ascend in a gondola to the Rosa Peak observation platform at an altitude of 2320 meters above sea level, take a walk along the Health Trail, or ride a horse through the alpine meadows on the Aibga ridge during your stay at the Rosa Khutor. Also, the shore of a mountain lake is equipped with a Rosa Beach recreation area for the visitors, which includes two swimming pools with clean mountain water, sun beds with umbrellas, locker rooms, showers, children's play area.

PandaPark rope adventure park offers zipline-style rides.The park is located at a height of 1350 meters above sea level, which means the vistors are guaranteed to get breathtaking views of the Caucasus mountains in addition to the adrenaline rush. Actually, the names of the available routes speak for themselves: Eagle Flight, Brave Panda, Liana Express. Another summer season activity at Rosa Khutor is rafting. Everyone, both beginners and adventurers, can go on a small trip on the Mzymta mountain river.


Skypark is an extraordinary mountain adventure park, the only one of its kind in Russia. The park is a joint Russian-New Zealand project, designed by AJ Hackett International, the pioneers of bungee jumping. The park is located in Sochi National Park (along the way to Krasnaya Polyana) in a scenic location in the Akhshtyrskoe gorge of the Mzymta river valley. The park is located in an old-growth forest where Colchian boxwood, jasmine, Pontian rhododendron, and other rare plants grow.

The centerpiece of the park is occupied by the Skybridge, the world's longest suspended footbridge, with a length of 439 meters. Everyone can have an exciting walk across the bridge and enjoy splendid panoramic views from a height of 207 meters: on one side are the Caucasus mountains and on the other, the Black Sea coast.

Skypark also includes the Mowgli Adventure Rope Park, observation platforms with spectacular views, an interactive museum of bungee jumping, an 18-meter-high artificial climbing wall with an area of 1,200 square meters, an amphitheater hosting concerts and festivals, and a restaurant on the edge of a canyon.

For real thrill-seekers, Skypark offers high thrill-rides created by AJ Hackett International. Skypart has one of the highest bungee jumping platforms in the world, at 207 meters and 69 meters. There is also the world's highest swing (SochiSwing, 170 meters), and MegaTroll, a 700-meter zip wire on which you can reach speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour. Accompanied by professional guides, park visitors can climb up the specially designed via ferrata (metal ladder along a cliff) to the Liana cave or go canyoning along the picturesque Dzyhra river.

BUNGY 69 is a jump at a height of 69 meters from a special platform located at the beginning of the SkyBridge. The platform allows jumpers to execute over 10 different kinds of bungee jumps, from classic head-first jumps to more daring ones with bicycles and other equipment. There are jumps suitable for everyone — from novices making their first jump to experienced thrill-seekers rushing toward adrenaline buzz regardless of the time of year. The platform offers an incredible view of the Mzymta river valley, the Akhshtyrskoe valley, and the Black Sea coast.

Designed by the pioneers of bungee jumping, Bungy 207 is the highest bungee platform in Russia. Bungee jumps are performed from a height of 207 meters from a special platform located in the center of the SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. The platform is securely protected from precipitation and wind.

SochiSwing is not your typical playground swing. SochiSwing is the highest swing in the world, rising 170 meters into the sky. The incredible pendulum-like flight over the gorge is done over a closed platform at the beginning of the SkyBridge. The swing accelerates at an incredible rate, taking riders 500 meters, from one side of the gorge to the other, in just a few seconds.

The ambitious bridge project was jointly developed by Russian and New Zealand architects. The design and survey work took three years to complete. Construction lasted for two years. More than 740 tons of metalwork and 2,000 cubic meters of concrete were used in the construction of the bridge. The SkyBridge is designed to comply with safety standards, and surpass them: the bridge is able to withstand hurricane-force winds, rain, snow, ice, and earthquakes with a magnitude up to 9.0.

The viaferrata route (“Sky”) leads to a small but beautiful cave located in a cliff wall of the left bank of Mzymta river in Akhshtyrskoe gorge. The route has two parts: a slowly descending, almost horizontal part, and a difficult vertical part that is equipped with steps to make it easier to ascend and descend. The main part of the route is shaded from the sun by the unusual landscape and the numerous vines hanging from the cliffs. The coolnes inside the caves is a welcome relief from the warm summer weather.

In Mowgli rope park, after crossing the longest suspension bridge in the world, visitors tour through the mysterious Colchian forest into the Liana cave located on a cliff. In the shade of the reserve forest, various routes have been laid between the trees with obstacles that will return any adult to childhood.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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