RS Oh, how spacious is my native country In the land of magnolias, where the waves roll in…

In the land of magnolias, where the waves roll in…

"There is no mistaking this city:
Its roads all lead down to the sea.
For Sochi is cheerful and pretty,
Its fountains sing out merrily!"

On September 26-29, the XII International Investment Forum will take place in Sochi. During the forum, a whole range of topical issues will be discussed: how countries with troubled investment climates can attract foreign investment, the standards for attracting investment in the Russian regions, the prospects for growth in Siberia and the Far Eastern Region, and, of course, with the Winter Olympics of 2014 just around the corner, issues related to sport and tourism.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's Prime Minister, will give a speech at the opening of the forum.
Last year's forum was attended by 7300 delegates from 55 Russian regions and 40 foreign states. 82 contracts, worth a combined total of more than 50 billion roubles, were signed at the XI Forum by Federal Subjects of the Russian Federation and major companies.

Sochi is a resort-city on the Black Sea Coast of the Western Caucuses, in Russia's Krasnodar Region. Sochi is the biggest resort-city in Russia and Europe and a major economic centre on Russia's Black Sea Coast. It is unofficially referred to as Russia's summer capital, southern capital or resort capital.

A brief history of Sochi

The land that constitutes present-day Sochi was first settled over 100,000 years ago. Sochi played a hugely important role in ancient times. Evidence of this can be seen in the finds unearthed by archaeologists, who have found a large number of caves, dolmens, ancient tombs, ruins of temples and monasteries, stone monuments, traces of settlements, and burial grounds.

It is thought that the first settlers came to Sochi from Asia Minor via the Colchis region some time between 400,000 and 350,000 years ago, i.e. during the Early Acheulian Age. The most famous stone monument of the Stone Age, the Akhshtyrskaya Cave, was erected 250,000 years ago.

In their time, these areas have seen plenty of people come and go, and a huge amount of history. The Black Sea Coast of the Caucasus was also colonised by the Greeks at one stage, and later by the Romans. After the Roman-Persian Wars, the Emperor Justinian managed to sign a pact in 562 which saw the Western Caucasus come under the rule of the Roman Empire. This gave rise to the strong military and cultural influence that the Roman Empire had on the Black Sea Coast of the Caucasus.

Following the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, the area that is now present-day Sochi became part of the Russian Empire.

The city of Sochi was founded on April 21, 1838 as the Fort of Alexandria. During the Caucasian War, the following forts were also established in the area that is now present-day Sochi: the fort of the Holy Spirit (1837), which would later become the district of Adler, and the forts of Lazarevsky and Golovinsky (1839), which later became the settlements of Lazarevskoye and Golovinka. The purpose of reinforcing the area was to provide a bulwark against the slave trade and prevent illegal sales of weapons to people living in the mountains.

A population shift began in these areas in 1866. Settlements were formed in Sochi by Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Armenians, Georgians, Greeks, Estonians, Moldovans and others. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, hotels, sanatoriums and country cottages began to be constructed in Sochi, whilst new roads were laid, parks and gardens were established and the first resort institutions were opened.

The city first became known as Sochi in 1896. No-one can be sure of the precise origins of the name of Sochi, which sounds so strange to the Russian ear. According to the Turkish historian and geographer Evliya Celebi, the city was named in honour of an Adygean tribe, the "Socha", which had once lived in the area. As for the Roman chronicles, they refer to the inhabitants of the eastern coast of the Black Sea, the Sagidians, or the "sachi" in Latin.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the fertile lands of the Black Sea Coast began to attract increasing numbers of industrial pioneers and entrepreneurs. By a decree dated May 23, 1896, the Black Sea District, which was part of the Kuban Region, was made part of the independent Black Sea Governorate. It was the smallest of Russia's governorates (6887.5 sq. km).

It was at that time - the late 19th and early 20th centuries - that Sochi's architectural image was formed, which boasted the particular features and diversity that were unique to the resort cities on the coast, and distinguished them from other provincial regions. The core principle of the approach to town planning during the construction work in Sochi was to aim to create a resort that would take the form of a garden-city. Its architecture was characterized by the sort of pavilion-shaped buildings commonly found in parks, in which the architects’ main goal was to achieve harmony between the architecture and the natural landscape. The parks were the particular pride of the resort-city of Sochi.

Sochi's climate and natural surroundings helped it to develop as a resort-city. In 1900, the Minister of Land Allocation and State Property, A.S. Ermolov, transferred to Empress Maria, free of charge, a plot of land in the village of Uch-Dere, near Sochi, with an area of 54,800 dessiatins (the equivalent of 1.09 ha) for the construction of an institute for children with impaired vision.

The resort architecture: stone flowerpots
The resort architecture: stone flowerpots

In the lower section of the city, according to the history of the resort of Sochi, students from the Sochi pre-school planted sycamores to mark the 300th anniversary of the Romanovs' home and the 75th anniversary of the year Sochi was founded. Back then, nobody could have imagined that these huge sycamores would go on to embody the city. The Sycamore Alley is the pride of Sochi. In the upper part of the city the white-stone Cathedral of St Michael the Archangel - one of the first such temples in the south-eastern corner of the Western Caucasus's Black Sea Coast - was erected. It was built in honour of St Michael the Archangel, the patron saint of the Russian army, and a real-life figure: the Great Prince Mikhail, the vicegerent to Tsar Alexander II in the Caucasus.

Large-scale construction of a resort in the city began after the revolution of 1917 and the civil war of 1918-1920. In 1934, the first general plan for the reconstruction of the city of Sochi was approved. 19 new sanatoriums were built in the city between 1934 and 1939. Sochi became a key health resort for the whole of the Soviet Union.

During the Great Patriotic War, hospitals were set up inside sanatoriums in Sochi, in which over 300,000 soldiers and officers were treated for war wounds.

A resort city... and that's not all

Wherever there are mountains, you will also find myths and legends. Sochi is no exception. Every single summit seems to have its own special legend. A good place to start is at the Orlinye Skaly (Eagle Cliffs). We are all familiar with the legend of Prometheus, who brought fire to the people and was chained to the cliff-face by way of punishment. But not many people know that it was in Sochi that Titan was tortured by the eagles. In honour of this, a huge statue of Prometheus has been installed on top of the Eagle Cliffs, which people can take photos of.


This particular legend has a sequel, too. The story goes that a kind girl came along who took pity on Prometheus. Her name was Agura. One day, Agura could no longer bear the moans of Titan, who had been chained to the cliff-face, and she chased off the eagles pecking at his liver. The sovereign eagle was enraged, and ordered that Agura be thrown into the sea. The blood that was spilt turned into a river. To this day the beautiful River Agura flows through Sochi, and the Agura Falls are another of the area's main tourist attractions.

Anyone who read fairy-tales in their childhood knows about live water. Sochi also has a source of live water, and its name is Matsesta. The legend has it that Matsesta was the name of a beautiful girl who, hoping to restore her parents to good health, set off to pay her respects to the Spirit of the mountains and convinced him to give the people a source of live water. Matsesta is now a huge health spa complex, visited by hundreds of people seeking to benefit from its cures each year. Matsesta is a source of unique sulphurous waters, and transformed Sochi into a site of pilgrimages for holidaymakers in need of the curative power of nature.

The Matsesta Caves are considered unique: they are hydrothermal-caustic, i.e. they were formed by hot underground water. The sources of the waters in Sochi are situated in the mountains, in ecologically pure areas, characterized by therapeutically significant concentrations of boron, increased concentrations of fluorine and a host of biologically active elements, such as iodine, iron, bromine, silicon etc., which provide curative and prophylactic action for a broad range of medical conditions.

The city's natural beauty is its biggest tourist attraction!

If you feel like keeping cool on a hot day, the Yew and Boxwood Forest is well worth a visit. Here you'll find over 60 species of trees and shrubs.

The Yew and Boxwood Forest is a sort of living museum and a reservoir for relic plants, which has remained virtually unchanged since pre-historic times (around 30 million years ago). It has an area of 302 hectares. The forest boasts yew trees with berries (a coniferous tree which produces cone-berries rather than cones, also known as a red tree due to the colour of its wood) and ever-green boxwood trees, the wood of which sinks in water. Boxwood trees are also known as iron trees due to their density.

The forest is part of the Caucasian State Natural Biosphere Reserve. The Caucasian Reserve is an incredibly rich source of bio-diversity, which is unparalleled in Russia. It serves as an international model, as an area of untouched natural beauty, which has preserved its original landscapes with their unique flora and fauna. In 1979 it was granted the status of a biosphere reserve, and became part of the International network of biosphere reserves, while in December 1999 it was added to the UNESCO list of worldwide natural heritage sites.

View of the resort part of Sochi from the park Arboretum
View of the resort part of Sochi from the park "Arboretum"

One of the key tourist attractions is rightly considered to be the Arboretum park, founded in 1892 by S.N. Khudyakov, the author of the famous "History of Dance", and the publisher and editor of the "St. Petersburg Gazette". Here you will see a huge number of incredibly diverse plants from every corner of the planet, and diverse, rare species of animals and birds. Many tourists enjoy paying a visit to Sochi's rosary, which boasts an incredible number of species of rose, of rare beauty. The astounding sculptures and fountains blend in perfectly with the rest of the park, and are among its most beautiful attractions.

Sochi's most popular mountain with tourists is Mount Akhun. It is 663m above sea level. Its viewing platform offers beautiful panoramic views of the mountains, which are dazzlingly white in the winter and a colourful patchwork in the summer, the open expanse of the Black Sea, and offers a glimpse of the Atskhu Gorge, the Orlinye Cliffs, and the grey peaks of the main Caucasian Ridge and its settlements.

Tower on the Mount Akhun
Tower on the Mount Akhun

The city also has plenty to offer those who prefer to admire and marvel at man-made creations. Lovers of fine arts will find themselves drawn to the Arts Museum. This majestic palace, decorated with a colonnade, was built in 1936. Visitors to the museum can get lost in contemplation of canvases by Aivazovsky, Vasnetsov, Polenov, Shishkin and other outstanding Russian artists.

Sochi has picked up more than its fair share of stories and legends from its recent history, too. Rumours abound, for example, about Stalin's famous "Green dacha". The dacha was built in 1937. It is located in an area of stunning, primeval beauty. It affords a breathtaking view of the snowy summits of the Main Caucasian Ridge. The dacha is surrounded by a fairytale forest containing relic trees. The "great dictator" always loved Sochi, and it is said that only here at his "Green dacha" was he able to find inner peace. And the ghost of Stalin haunts the dacha to this day - as everyone in Sochi will tell you! ? Some people have heard him pacing about, while others claim to have seen Josef Vissarionovich sitting next to the fireplace, smoking his pipe.

According to the people of Sochi, the city's marine terminal is one of its most famous landmarks.

The port is extremely picturesque. Near the coast there is a round pavilion affording a magnificent view of the sea. In the central part of the terminal is the waiting room. The decor in this hall never fails to leave first-time visitors amazed: it boasts an abundance of sculpted elements, mirrors, luxurious furnishings, sofas, armchairs and small tables. The columns in the vestibule, decorated with majolica, and the mosaic-tiled floors are particularly attractive.

Central facade of marina of Sochi
Central facade of marina of Sochi

The crowning glory of the marine terminal is a 36-metre spire. The tower below it has three levels, each decorated with sculptures. The first set of sculptures has the theme: "The seasons". The sculptures on the second level represent the world's hemispheres. The final section of decorative sculptures features twelve dolphins, resembling flames surrounding the main spire.

Sochi is quite rightly considered a summer cultural capital, because at the height of summer the finest theatre companies in the country put on plays at the Winter Theatre, while famous artists put on shows on the stage at the "Festival" complex, along with plenty more besides.

The 2014 Olympic Games

From February 7 to February 23, Sochi will host the Olympic Games. Once the Olympic Games are over, the Paralympic Games will take place, at the same venues.

Sochi will be the first city with a sub-tropical climate to host the winter Olympic Games. Sochi itself will host the indoor events (ice-hockey, figure skating and speed skating). The open-air events (cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, bobsleigh and so on) will take place at the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort.

Olympic projects under construction in Sochi
Olympic projects under construction in Sochi. View from the airplane

Krasnaya Polyana is a fairytale alpine land not far from Sochi. It is the most famous alpine skiing resort in Russia, and is the favourite skiing destination of the country's leaders - President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev! Krasnaya Polyana boasts skiing infrastructure unlike any other in Russia, and is among the world's top ten skiing resorts in terms of elevation: 1698m (from 540m to 2238m). There are ski-slopes of varying degrees of complexity in the city, suited to both professionals and first-time skiers. The resort is located 40km from Adler airport and 70km from the centre of Sochi, and it takes 1 hour on average to get from the airport to the hotels in the resort.

There are mountains, glaciers, rivers and lakes, plus an exceptionally mild sea and alpine climate, which means that even in winter the slopes of the mountains are often bathed in sunlight; in summer the average temperature reaches +24° С - +28?С.

Krasnaya Polyana
Krasnaya Polyana, mountain ridge Aibga

The winters here are sunny and snowy. During the winter months, the air temperatures range from: -5? to -12°С by night; 0 to +5?С during the day. The thick layer of snow on Krasnaya Polyana's mountain slopes starts to form in mid-November and lasts until early June. The layer of snow on the mountains is 3-7 metres thick. The skiing season in Krasnaya Polyana lasts from November to June.


Useful information:

  • Sochi is situated in a humid, sub-tropical zone. The city's climate is affected significantly by the sea: in summer the sea has a cooling effect, while in winter it helps to warm the city, with the mountains protecting the city from the cold northerly winds. The climate is very humid, particularly along the coast. It is the same climate that can be seen in the south-east of the USA (in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia)
  • Peak precipitation levels are seen in the winter season, mostly in the form of rain, and, less often, snow. The winters are warm, and the summers are hot and humid. Since Sochi is located near the Tropic of Cancer, severe frost and heavy snow are occasionally seen in winter, but they are extremely rare in the urban part of Sochi on the coast, and last no more than 1-5 days
  • Summer in Sochi lasts from April to October. The average temperature in August is +23.6 °C. Autumn lasts from November to January, while winter is short: from February to mid-March. The average temperature in February is +6.0 °C. The mean air temperature throughout the year is +14.2 °C, while the mean air humidity level is 74%. In summer the sea port reaches temperatures of +28 °C
  • Sochi is located in the Moscow Time Zone (MSD). In relation to UTC, Sochi is located at +4:00
  • The distance from Moscow to Sochi is 1,650 km. It takes 2.2 hours to fly here from Moscow, or 24.09 hours on the train
  • Sochi (Adler) Airport is one of the biggest transport hubs for domestic and international flights in Russia's Southern Federal Region (along with Krasnodar Airport). The airport is the country's eighth biggest in terms of passenger footfall (2.12 million passengers) after the Moscow airports - Domodedovo, Sheremetevo and Vnukovo, Pulkovo in St Petersburg, Koltsovo in Ekaterinburg, Tolmachevo in Novosibirsk and Pashkovsky in Krasnodar
  • You can get from the airport to the city by bus or taxi. Since February 15, 2012, high-speed "Lastochka" (Swallow) trains have been running from the airport to Sochi. Journey time is approximately 45 minutes
  • The city contains several branches of Sberbank and Gazprombank, along with Raiffeisenbank, Societe Generale Vostok (BSGV), Unicreditbank and several others
  • The city offers a whole range of telecommunications services: mobile services (2G, 3G, WiMax), landline services (including IP-telephone lines), broadband internet access and digital TV; it has several mobile network operators and landline network operators. Landlines in Sochi have 7 digits, and the city's code is (862)
  • The city's transport services include public minibuses, taxes and buses. Hire cars are available. Due to the length of the city, trains also run from one end to the other. 2 funiculars and 3 cable-cars provide a further, more unusual form of public transport
  • There are a total of over 400 tourist institutions in the city: 35 leisure centres, 16 guest-houses, 86 hotels, 4 holiday homes, 17 rest centres, 49 boutique hotels, 76 boarding houses, 84 sanatoriums and 3 tourist bases. 120 of these facilities (hotels, boarding houses, sanatoriums, holiday homes) boast a "star" rating, including two with 5*, 14 with 4*, 14 with 3* and 60 with 2* - 40 venues in total
  • The city boasts hotel chains that are famous throughout the world:
    - Radisson BLU Hotels & Resorts (Radisson Lazurnaya Hotel Sochi)
    - Stein Hotels & Resorts (Grand Hotel Rodina)
    - Heliopark Hotels & Resorts (the hotel "Primorskaya")
    - Breeze Hotel ("Breeze Hotel")
    - Swissotel Hotels & Resorts (Swissotel Sochi Camelia, currently under construction)
    - Hyatt Regency Sochi Hotel (Hotel Hyatt ***** , under construction)

Did you know?

  • An agreement to host a Formula-1 Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014 was signed in October 2010. The first F1 race will take place right after the 2014 Olympics, and the contract is set to last until 2020, but it may be extended later. The Formula-1 track will be built in the Olympic Park in Sochi
  • Every year (in October) the festival "Velvet Seasons" - an international fashion festival - is held in Sochi. The festival takes place over one week, at the House of Fashion in Sochi and at Sochi Winter Theatre. The festival was founded in 1997 and is one of the pillars of Russia's fashion industry, set up by Vyacheslav Zaitsev. Vyacheslav Zaitsev is an honorary citizen of Paris
  • The Open Russian film festival "Kinotavr" has been held in Sochi since 1989
  • There are just 66 overcast days in Sochi each year. The sun shines in Sochi 300 days of the year!
  • Sochi is the second-longest city in the world. It stretches 145 km along the Black Sea Coast! Most of this vast area is covered in plant life
  • Sochi is the home of the most northerly tea in the world. Foreign visitors are always shown to the tea houses, where they are treated to tea and pies, and jams made of figs and feijoa, nuts and alpine honey
  • Sochi also has a Tree of Friendship. The Tree of Friendship was planted by the botanist Fyodor Zorin, who grafted the saplings of orange trees, mandarin trees and grapefruit trees to a wild lemon tree sapling
  • Each year Sochi welcomes 5 million tourists, in the summer season alone
  • Greater Sochi consists of the following resorts: Adler, Khost, Kudepsta, Matsesta, Sochi (the centre), Dagomys, Lazarevskoye, Loo, Golovinka, Vardane and Krasnaya Polyana. Greater Sochi has a population of 445,209
  • Among the famous people from Sochi are: Andre Geim, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2010, Evgeny Kafelnikov, Russia's most decorated tennis player, the number one in the world in 1999 and Olympic champion in 2000 in the singles, Yuri Denisyuk, the physicist, one of the founders of optical holography, and Boris Nemtsov, a Russian politician and member of the opposition