The Russian seaside resort and spa town of Sochi on the Black Sea gained worldwide fame as the venue of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi scores points with holidaymakers for its kilometre-long beaches, magnificent architectural monuments, idyllic parks and truly spectacular scenery.
Located on the so-called "Russian Riviera", the Russian city of Sochi north of the border with Georgia and Abkhazia is an extremely popular holiday resort on the Black Sea. With a length of 30 kilometres and equally long beaches, Sochi is the longest city in Asia.
In recent years, however, Sochi has also developed into an internationally recognised sports centre and, with the G8 summit in 2014, is also receiving worldwide attention in politics. Thus, Sochi has also earned a place on our list of the top 10 sights of Russia.
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PICTURES: Bathing and spa resort of Sochi
Journey to Sochi
Sochi is easily accessible internationally via the airport in the Adler district. Sochi is also connected to many major cities in Russia as far as Siberia via the railway network. Transport within Sochi is provided by buses, taxis (marshrutkas) and suburban trains (electrichkas), as well as gondolas and chairlifts.
Sochi as a spa and health resort
Sochi (Soči) lies on the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, which reach heights of up to 1,000 metres near the coast and are responsible for the mild climate. The city lies on the same latitude as the French coastal city of Nice and can also boast hot summers and mild winters.
The palm, banana and citrus trees have earned Sochi the nickname "the northernmost subtropics in the world". The snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus can be seen from the kilometre-long pebble beaches, and from November there are winter sports opportunities in Sochi practically on the doorstep.
If the weather is bad, you don't have to despair in Sochi. Numerous museums and theatres, the largest aquarium in Russia or the Monkey Nursery Center, where monkeys are trained for space flight tests, provide the best entertainment even without sunshine.
With summer water temperatures of around 24°C in the Black Sea, Sochi is one of Russia's most popular seaside resorts and attracts 4 million holidaymakers to the Black Sea every year. The healing mineral springs of Mazesta also contributed to Sochi being used as a health resort since the beginning of the 20th century, especially by the Russian upper class. The pretty Art Nouveau houses, palace hotels and holiday resorts that were built at that time can still be visited in part today.
Architectural sights in Sochi
If you walk through Sochi with your eyes open, you will notice not only the dreamlike coastline and the lush vegetation, but also one or two buildings in Sochi that are worth seeing. For example, the snow-white Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel from 1891, the smart railway station from the Stalin era, the winter and summer theatre, the magnificent marina, the Metallurg sanatorium reminiscent of a Greek temple, Stalin's former summer house ("dacha"), the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Vladimir, which immediately catches the eye with its magnificent façade, as well as countless monuments and fountains.
The triangular Godlik Fortress from the 4th or 5th century and the Loo Temple, whose origins go back to the 10th century, are reminders of Sochi's Byzantine times in the Lazarevskoe district. Both historical sites are unfortunately in a pitiful state and unimpressive with their crumbling wall remains.
On the coast of Sochi in the district of Adler, 7km from the airport, there is also a part of the Olympic Village, which was built for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The second part of the Olympic Village is located in Krasnaya Polyana, about 40 kilometres from Sochi, where the Olympic competitions will also take place.
Parks in Sochi
The most popular and largest park in Sochi is the ornate Riviera Park. It was first laid out in 1898 and generously renovated exactly 100 years later. The undisputed highlight of Riviera Park is Friendship Avenue, which was laid out in 1960. Its trees were all planted by famous personalities. Between the idyllic green spaces, restaurants and bars, a cinema and many leisure and sports facilities ensure that boredom does not arise.
Dendraria (Botanical Gardens)
Also wonderful for walks is the Dendrarium in the centre of Sochi. Trees from all over the world can be found in this wonderfully shady area. From the Dendrarium's shore, a cable car takes you up to its hill, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the mountains of the Caucasus.
Another dendrarium is located in the Adler district. The so-called "Park of Southern Cultures" dates back to 1910 and contains 5,500 different plant species, some of which are in bloom at any given time of the year. Hidden among the lush vegetation are ponds with water lilies and lotus blossoms, on which ducks and swans make their circles.
Sochi in sport
Winter Olympics 2014
Sochi has been designated as the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Olympic village was built in the nearby ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana, where the best sports stars from around the world compete for medals on the slopes. The Winter Paralympics were also held in Sochi in 2014.
2014 was also the year that Formula 1 made its way to Russia for the first time in history. The Russian Grand Prix takes place at the purpose-built Sochi Autodrom, which also passed through the Olympic Village on the coast.
Actually, the Russian Formula 1 races should have taken place in Moscow, but the circuit was not built there due to financial problems. In Sochi, too, the costs of the almost 6-kilometre-long track are estimated at up to 200 million US dollars. The Russian Grand Prix celebrated its premiere on 12 October 2014.
Sochi was also a venue in the 2018 World Cup, which took place in Russia. Four group matches, as well as one round of 16 and one quarter-final, were held in the Olympic Stadium "Fischt" (named after a mountain), which was completed in 2013.