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Sochi

  • Russia
  • Sochi
  • 176,77 km²
  • Mediterranean
  • (GMT+3)
  • Russian ruble
  • Russian
  • 343,334
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General Information About Sochi

Area: 176.77 km²

Population: 343,334

Language: Russian

Currency: Russian ruble (RUR)

Location

Sochi is a city located on Russia's coast along the Black Sea, in the federal subject of Krasnodar Krai. It is situated near the international border between Russia and Georgia. Due to its location along the Black Sea coast, Sochi enjoys a pleasant climate, with warm summers and mild winters. It is the largest resort city in Russia and is the host city of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games and the Winter Paralympics. Sochi will host the 22nd Winter Olympics from 7th to 23rd February, 2014.

Keep browsing through this section to find out more about Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, in Russia.

Sochi is located on the westernmost part of Russia and is situated on the Black Sea, near the border of Georgia. The city stretches for 90 miles along the sea. It is just under 1000 miles from Moscow. Russia’s a big place.

Sochi is popular vacation destination in Russia and is the country’s largest resort city. Sochi’s summer season is approximately six months long and the climate is subtropical and temperate year-round.

Sochi is served by its own international airport, which added a new $200 million terminal in preparation for the influx of visitors in February.

Flights from the U.S. must go through Moscow first. The flight from Moscow to Sochi is approximately two and a half hours. Major international airlines such as Delta, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines fly to Moscow, with connecting flights to Sochi hosted by Aeroflot. Direct flights via Aeroflot are also available through many cities

.

History

The territory of today's Sochi was inhabited for thousands of years, populated by Caucasian mountainous tribes and being under the influence and dominion of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Abkhazian and Ottoman civilizations. A few landmarks of antecedent civilizations remained, including the bronze age table-stones and medieval Byzantine temples.

The Russian Empire approached these lands in the beginning of 19th century, and after a war with the Ottoman Empire acquired them in 1829. Soon after that, in 1838, Russian authorities established the fort of Alexandria, at the site of modern Central Sochi, and 2 more forts in the modern Lazarevskoe district of the city. Alexandria was renamed several times and finally obtained the name Sochi (by the name of a local river) in 1896.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Sochi became known as a resort place. In 1902 the first bath building in Matsesta was constructed and in 1909 the official resort named "Caucasian Riviera" was open. Right before the 1917 revolution Sochi got its city status, and in the same time the railway connected it with the rest of Russia. But the regular train service started only six years later, after the Russian Civil War finished with the Bolsheviks' victory. The city was growing quite slowly (from 13,000 in 1916 to 17,000 in 1932).

The situation changed in 1934, when a general reconstruction of Sochi was initiated by Stalin's government. In just seven years, from 1932 to 1939, the city's population skyrocketed from 17,000 to 72,000. New roads, theatres, parks, hotels and spa resorts were constructed, making the look of Sochi closer to what can be seen today.

In 1961, the authorities decided to incorporate settlements nearby into Sochi, starting the history of Greater Sochi (Большой Сочи).

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Sochi took over the role of the Russian President's traditional summer residence from Crimea, as that became a part of the independent Ukraine.

In 2007 the city opened a new chapter in its history by winning the bid of the Olympic host city of 2014. The volume of construction work was huge, including new infrastructure (roads, sanitation, air and seaports, etc.), sport venues (both indoor and outdoor), commercial and residential buildings. The new look of Sochi transformed the features of once a Soviet domestic resort.

Climate

Sochi belongs to that tiny part of Russia, which is happily located in the subtropical climatic zone. In contrast to Mediterranean climates, Sochi has a very high humidity level, like that in Abkhazia or in some southeastern states of the United States. Despite high precipitation, Sochi enjoys 300 sunny days annually, which is unbelievable for any other part of Russia except the adjacent Krasnodar Krai coastal cities. This makes nearly all the year comfortable for visiting Sochi, except maybe November through January.

Most of precipitation falls during the winter, partly in snow, but there is usually no regular snow cover in the coastal part of the city. Sochians rarely use winter tyres, so every heavy snowfall comes unpredictably for drivers. The climate of the mountainous part of Greater Sochi is significantly colder, allowing for a full ski season in winter (usually, February and March). Thanks to that, Krasnaya Polyana is quickly developing as a winter resort and will host all outdoor competitions during the 2014 Olympics.

The period of spring is quite short and is characterized by gardens blossoming (usually starts in March, even if temperatures are lower than in February). This is a comfortable season with less rain, but still with the cold sea.

Sochi's summer can be associated with the swimming season, which usually lasts from the mid-end of May till the end of October. This is the true high season with its tourist peak in July-August. In September and October the city attracts fewer visitors, partly because of the start of the school year. These two months, when the Black Sea is still warm, air is not very hot, and streets are not filled with tourists' crowds, seem to be the most enjoying time to visit Sochi. This period is called smoothy season ("бархатный сезон").

The off-season autumn, coming to Sochi in the end of October, is warm, but with more cloudy days and rain. By the end of November daily average temperature drops below 10°C (50°F)

Culture

When traveling to Russia remember that you’re a guest and respect Russian etiquette, traditions and customs. While you don’t have to remember every little Russian custom it is important to keep some in mind. Tip service staff 10%-15% and leave a daily dollar or two for the hotel housekeeping staff. When interacting with the local population in a non-service capacity there are a few things remember. Never greet someone or shake a hand over a threshold, it is bad luck. Wait until you are entirely inside and then greet your host. Should you be invited into someone’s home, bring a gift, any gift. Food and alcohol will be greatly appreciated. Flowers are also common but don’t bring an even number. That’s for funerals. At some point your host may offer you gifts, repeatedly. Say, ‘No’. Keep saying no unless they refuse to relent. They’re being polite, they probably don’t actually want you to take their possessions home. Here are a few other, general ‘rules’ of Russian etiquette and customs: 1. Arrive on time. Being ‘casually late’ can be a sign of disrespect to your host. 2. Don’t talk politics, especially about the U.S.S.R. It is a social taboo and worse, you risk saying something uninformed. 3. On public transit the elderly (especially woman), pregnant woman, and woman in general should never be allowed to stand. Give your seat up to them or expect some very dirty looks. 4. Try to learn a few key Russian phrases to help get you get around. It’ll show that you care and are willing to make the effort. At the bare minimum, learn the Russian for, “Do you speak English” Besides that, be polite, respectful and follow the lead of others. If you are truly worried, spend some time reading about Russian customs, traditions and culture before your trip.

Sochi is a resort city located in the Russian Federal Subject of Krasnodar Krai. It is north of Russia's border with Georgia along the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains. Greater Sochi stretches 90 miles (145 km) along the sea and is considered one of the longest cities in Europe. The City of Sochi covers a total area of 1,352 square miles (3,502 sq km).

The following is a list of the ten most important geographic facts to know about Sochi, Russia:

  1. Sochi has a long history that dates back to Ancient Greek and Roman times when the area was inhabited by the Zygii people. From the 6th to the 11th centuries though, Sochi belonged to Georgia's kingdoms of Egrisi and Abkhazia.
  2. After the 15th century, the region making up Sochi was known as Ubykhia and was controlled by local mountaineer clans. In 1829 however the coastline region was ceded to Russia after the Caucasian and Russo-Turkish Wars.
  3. In 1838, Russia founded the Fort of Alexandria (which was renamed Navaginsky) at the mouth of the Sochi River. In 1864, the final battle of the Caucasian War took place and on March 25 a new fort Dakhovsky was established where Navaginsky had been.
  4. Throughout the early 1900's, Sochi grew as a popular Russian resort city and in 1914, it was granted municipal rights. Sochi's popularity grew further during Joseph Stalin's control of Russia as Sochi as he had a vacation home, or dacha, built in the city. Since its founding, Sochi has also been the served as the location where various treaties have been signed.
  5. As of 2002, Sochi had a population of 334,282 people and a population density of 200 people per square mile (95 per sq km).
  6.  Sochi's topography is varied. The city itself lies along the Black Sea and is at a lower elevation than surrounding areas. However it is not flat and has clear views of the Caucasus Mountains.
  7.  The climate of Sochi is considered humid subtropical at its lower elevations and its winter low temperatures rarely dip below freezing for long periods. The average January temperature in Sochi is 43°F (6°C). Sochi's summers are warm and temperatures range from 77°F to 82°F (25°C-28°C). Sochi's receives about 59 inches (1,500 mm) of precipitation yearly.
  8. Sochi is known for its various vegetation types (many of which are palms), parks, monuments and extravagant architecture. Around two million people travel to Greater Sochi during the summer months.
  9. In addition to its status as a resort city, Sochi is known for its sports facilities. For example, tennis schools in the city have trained such athletes as Maria Sharapova and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
  10. Due to its popularity among tourists, historic characteristics, sports venues and proximity to the Caucasus Mountains, the International Olympic Committee selected Sochi as the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics on July 4, 2007.

Getting around Sochi

Getting to Sochi

Getting in and out of Sochi is easy and convenient with many options for both domestic and international travelers. While most international air travel will require a transfer through Moscow or another hub, flights from those hubs tend to be short flights and they run frequently for maximum convenience. If air travel is not your forte you can also arrive in Sochi by train from all over Russia and parts of Europe without adding much additional travel time. And, of course, the truly independent can get behind the wheel and take in the scenic Russian country on their way into town.

Sochi International Airport (AER)

Website: Sochi-Airport.com

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Sochi Trains

Sochi Train Station

56 Gorky Street, Sochi, Russia (center of Sochi)phone: 7 (8622) 609 009

Lazarevsky Train Station

Odoevsky Street, Lazarevsky village, Russiaphone: 7 (8622) 723 544

Sochi Ferries.

Port of Sochi

To see passenger and cargo lines operating from Sochi, visit the website address below. Destinations and dates change often so make sure to check schedules regularly for updated info.

Website: Seaport-Sochi.ru

Things to do in Sochi

Probably best known as the host town of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia’s resort town of Sochi was founded in 1838 by the Russian Black Sea Fleet. After the end of the Crimean War, the city became a fashionable beach resort throughout the Tsarist and Soviet eras. Today, visitors can enjoy the same beautiful beaches and mountain scenery that made Sochi a luxury destination for the country’s elite. On top of getting some sub-tropical sun, travelers today can also soak up the distinctive history, culture and cuisine of the Russian Caucasus. Here’s our list for the top 10 things to see and do in Sochi.

Sochi Arboretum (Dendrarium)

Earning Sochi the moniker of ‘Garden City’, the Sochi Arboretum dates back to 1892, and hosts more than 2,000 species of rare and exotic plants, as well as numerous rare species of birds and other wildlife. The structure is divided into multiple exhibits representing different geographic areas, so you can compare the flora of the Caucasus and the Mediterranean to that of the Americas, East Asia and the Antipodes. Featuring cascading ponds, a flower pavilion, and a cable car with impressive mountain and sea panoramas at the top, the Arboretum is one of the most attractive spots in the city and a perfect place to enjoy a sunny day.

Museum of the Resort Town of Sochi

The Museum of the Resort Town of Sochi grew from the private collection of the Sochi’s Caucasian Mountaineering Club in the early 20th century. These mountaineers studiously gathered the natural and cultural artifacts they found on their excursions, from local Black Sea flora and fauna to archaeological and anthropological specimens. Today the museum features 4,000 exhibits, covering the history of Sochi and the Black Sea Coast from antiquity through present day. The original collection of ethnographic and archaeological materials are still on display, in addition to an area highlighting the development of Sochi as a resort town.

Sochi historic center and beach

In addition to numerous monuments in the town center, such as the ‘Anchor and Cannon’ monument in Pushkinsky Park, and the ‘Singing Fountains’ on Kurortny Prospekt, Sochi is distinguished by its Stalinist era ‘Empire style’ municipal architecture, also known as Socialist Classicism. As you stroll through the heart of one of the world’s few (if not only) Stalinist seaside resorts, look out for the Sochi Central Train Terminal, the Sochi Seaport, The Winter Theatre and the Sochi Art Museum. Bring your towel along in warmer weather, and take a refreshing dip in the Black Sea after a long morning of sightseeing.

Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster

A trip to Sochi would hardly be complete without a visit to the Rosa Khutor Ski Resort in the Caucasus Mountains, where the 2014 Olympic Alpine and Nordic events were held. The Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster, nicknamed ‘Russian Switzerland’, encompasses Russia’s biggest and most glamourous ski resorts: Rosa Khutor, Alpika Service, Gornaya Carusel and Gazprom Mountain Resort. Patronized by high-profile guests like President Vladimir Putin, these resorts feature 132 km of ski slopes, 56 lifts, and a variety of fine hotels and après-ski bars.

Stalin’s Dacha

Even dictators kick back sometimes, and what better place for a break than the balmy, scenic surroundings of the Russian Riviera? Joseph Stalin frequently stayed in this dacha (holiday home) from 1937 until his death in 1953. The columns and balustrades of this green wooden palace are well camouflaged by the lush foliage of the Riviera. Visitors to the dacha can take in the same views of the sea and Caucasus mountains once pondered by Stalin himself. The interior has remained largely untouched since the dictator’s time and still contains several personal effects, such as his leather jacket, pool table, and family photos. This site provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of modern history’s most significant and polarizing figures. After the tour, you can take lunch at the ground floor restaurant and sample Stalin’s favorite Caucasian dishes.

Sochi National Park

Founded in 1983 as Russia’s premiere national park, Sochi National Park covers 190,000 acres ranging from subtropical to mountain climate zones. The park offers an array of natural wonders, such as waterfalls, canyons, gorges and caves. Of particular note are the 33 Waterfalls, the Agura Ravine/Gorge, the Berendeevo Kingdom series of waterfalls and valleys, and the Vorontsov Cave Complex, which is one of the longest of its kind in Russia and contains evidence of human habitation dating back 20,000 years. The park also runs a Museum of Nature, where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the Caucasus coastal region and examine historical ruins and ancient obelisks (dolmens). Speaking of fauna, this park is home to a special rehabilitation program for the Persian Leopard – once widespread in the region but now virtually extinct.

Dagomys Teahouse and Plantation

The tea plantations of the Dagomys region outside Sochi are the northern-most tea cultivators in the entire world. Tea has been grown here since 1878; guests to the plantation can take a guided tour to learn all about the region’s history of tea. The local black and green varieties, renowned for their delicate flavors, are available for purchase at the plantation shop. The teahouse is built and decorated in the traditional Russian style by master artisans, featuring rich color schemes, elaborate wood carvings and handcrafted folk art. In these vivid interiors visitors can enjoy a traditional 19th-century style Russian tea party, complete with samovars, pastries, nuts, local jams, a musical serenade, and (of course) tea.

Caucasus Nature Biosphere Reserve

A UNESCO World Heritage site and Europe’s second-largest mountain forest, the Caucasus Nature Biosphere Reserve lies 25 km northwest of Sochi. This reserve stretches over a vast area ranging from subtropical forests to alpine pastures, and serves as a home to numerous species of wildlife (bears, wolves and European bison) and vegetation (virgin forests), many of which are endemic to the region. The website suggests numerous eco-tourist itineraries for summer and winter. The park has two special exclaves, one of which is located in Sochi’s Khosta District and features the park’s famous yew and box-tree groves. The other functions as a zoo where you can visit some of the park’s resident animal species.

Loo Byzantine Church

Located in the precincts of Sochi National Park, this ancient ruin of a Byzantine church is a fascinating vestige of the early influence and expansion of the Eastern Church. Situated atop a mountain, it’s estimated that the original church was built sometime in the 10th or 11th century, and was later converted into a fortress. Fragments of colored windowpane have been found near the site, suggesting that an early form of stained glass was used in the windows.

Godlik Fortress

Another ancient Byzantine ruin, the Godlik Fortress stands against a dramatic backdrop along the Godlik River, near a cliff side overlooking the sea. Built between 4th and 5th century AD, this fortress retains its original triangular shape as well as several of its millennia-old towers. At one point this fortress provided a base for the local slave-trading pirate population, the Geniokhs, while Genoese seafarers made later additions to the fortress in the 14th and 15th centuries. Numerous fragments of ancient pottery have been found in the vicinity, notably Khazarian dishes attributed to the fabled Khazar peoples who once rose to power in the region.

Sochi Culture and History

Sochi Culture and History

Sochi History

Sochi is often called the unofficial 'Summer Capital' of Russia, or the Black Sea Pearl. This is the country's biggest and busiest summer sea resort, attracting more than four million visitors annually with its amazing mountainous coastline, endless shingle beaches, warm sunny days, and bustling nightlife. From May to September Sochi's population at least doubles with tourists, including celebrities and the political elite of the country.

Strangely, only three percent of this visitors' crowd are international travelers, and even the frontier location of the city doesn't help to change the situation. Maybe the most famous non-politician foreign visitor of Sochi was Bono, who was invited to spend some time at President Medvedev's residence in 2010. But, in general, the city remains a very domestic destination, somewhat lacking in appropriate international infrastructure and having the same language barrier most regional centers of Russia do.

The territory of today's Sochi was inhabited for thousands of years, populated by Caucasian mountainous tribes and being under the influence and dominion of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Abkhazian and Ottoman civilizations. A few landmarks of antecedent civilizations remained, including the bronze age table-stones and medieval Byzantine temples.

The Russian Empire approached these lands in the beginning of 19th century, and after a war with the Ottoman Empire acquired them in 1829. Soon after that, in 1838, Russian authorities established the fort of Alexandria, at the site of modern Central Sochi, and 2 more forts in the modern Lazarevskoe district of the city. Alexandria was renamed several times and finally obtained the name Sochi (by the name of a local river) in 1896.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Sochi became known as a resort place. In 1902 the first bath building in Matsesta was constructed and in 1909 the official resort named "Caucasian Riviera" was open. Right before the 1917 revolution Sochi got its city status, and in the same time the railway connected it with the rest of Russia. But the regular train service started only six years later, after the Russian Civil War finished with the Bolsheviks' victory. The city was growing quite slowly (from 13,000 in 1916 to 17,000 in 1932).

The situation changed in 1934, when a general reconstruction of Sochi was initiated by Stalin's government. In just seven years, from 1932 to 1939, the city's population skyrocketed from 17,000 to 72,000. New roads, theatres, parks, hotels and spa resorts were constructed, making the look of Sochi closer to what can be seen today.

In 1961, the authorities decided to incorporate settlements nearby into Sochi, starting the history of Greater Sochi (Большой Сочи).

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Sochi took over the role of the Russian President's traditional summer residence from Crimea, as that became a part of the independent Ukraine.

In 2007 the city opened a new chapter in its history by winning the bid of the Olympic host city of 2014. The volume of construction work was huge, including new infrastructure (roads, sanitation, air and seaports, etc.), sport venues (both indoor and outdoor), commercial and residential buildings. The new look of Sochi transformed the features of once a Soviet domestic resort.

Ethnicities and religions

Sochi is one of the most multinational cities in Russia with people of more than 100 ethnic groups living there. Most of them are ethnic Russians (68%), the important minorities are Armenians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Greeks, Circassians, Belorussians, Tatars, and Jews.

Russian is the predominant language spoken by almost everyone in the city, including nearly all minorities, but many local placenames came from Abkhazian and Circassian languages. The most commonly used ones include "pse" / "psh" / "psta" (water), "akh" (high), and "nykh" (holy).

The major part of Sochi inhabitants are Christian Orthodox(85%). There are also Catholics. Muslims,and Jews. Orthodox cathedrals are represented in all the parts of the city. The only Catholic cathedral located in Central Sochi was built in 1997 (most churchgoers are Catholic Armenians). There is also a mosque, albeit a very small and remote one (in Tkhagapsh community, 15km (9 mi) towards the mountains from Lazarevskoe).

Greater Sochi occupies 105km along the Black Sea coastline. Its total area is 3,500km² (2,175 sq mi) - three times larger than Moscow. However, most of the population is spread along the narrow coastline stripe, while the mountain area (1,900km²/1,180mi²) mostly belongs to Sochi National Park and partly to the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve. The city alignment is from north-west to south-east, from the neighboring city of Tuapse right to the Russian border with Abkhazia.

Museums

Sochi Art Museum

Sochi Art Museum, Kurortny, 51 - Central, +7 (8622) 62-2947, +7 (8622) 62-2916, The museum occupies one of the most beautiful buildings of Sochi, built in 1936. Its collection is the largest at the Black Sea coast (more than 5 000 items of various style and period from antique to contemporary). The exposition expands with new paintings of Sochi artists, regular solo exhibitions are organized.

Sochi History Museum, Vorovskogo 54/11 - Central, +7 (8622) 64-28-91. This museum, one of the oldest cultural sights in the city, was open in 1920. The exposition embraces the important milestones of the city's history, archaelogical findings, nature and famous people. In total, there are 14 museum halls and about 150,000 items.

Museum of Sochi Sport Honour, Sovetskaya, 26 - Central, +7 (8622) 64-23-26, +7 (928) 448 90 85 (tours). 11:00-09:00 daily. This is the newest museum in the city, open in 2010 in the threshold of 2014 Olympics. The items of its collection show the history of Olympics, the Olympic movement, and Sochi participation in the organization of Olympics. The most important items are Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic flags, as well as the miniaturized models of Coastal and Mountain cluster venues, which are in construction in Sochi. The museum also acts as a cultural center, where numerous educational programs and meetings are conducted.

Sochi Olympic Park

Imeretinskaya lowland of Adler district was chosen as the place of Sochi 2014 Olympic Coastal Cluster allocation (the Mountain Cluster is located at Krasnaya Polyana). Initially occupied with chaotically built private houses, this area started to be totally re-developed in 2007, seeming to be the largest construction site of modern Russia. As of 2011, the construction is on its midway and to be finished by the end of 2013.

In 2014 the Olympic Park will be used for the Games opening and closing ceremonies, hockey, skating and curling competitions, and all medal award ceremonies. After the Games the park will become the city's legacy, while several competition venues will be transferred to other locations in Russia and the Olympic Village facilities will be converted into hotels and apartments.

Festivals and Events

Kinotavr, Open Russian Film Festival - conducted in June annually since 1990. Kinotavr is the largest Russian film festival attracting the top talents of Russian cinema: directors, producers, actors, writers, and photographers.

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