Sochi (Russian: Сочи, IPA: ['soʨɪ]) is a Russian resort city, situated in Krasnodar Krai. It sprawls along the shores of the Black Sea against the background of the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. At 145 km (90 mi), Greater Sochi is claimed to be the longest city in Europe.[1] As of the 2002 Census, it had a population of 328,809, down from 336,514 recorded in the 1989 Census.


Zygii lived in the area in antiquity. From the 6th to the 15th centuries, the area successively belonged to the Christian kingdoms of Egrisi and Abkhazia who built a dozen churches within the city boundaries. The Christian settlements along the coast were destroyed by the invading Gokturks, Khazars, and other nomadic empires whose control of the region was slight. The northern wall of an 11th-century Byzantinesque basilica still stands in the district of Loo.

From the 15th century onward, the area, known as Ubykhia, was controlled by the local mountaineer clans, nominally under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, which was their principal trading partner in the Muslim world. The coastline was ceded to Russia in 1829 as a result of a Russo-Turkish War, but the Russians had no detailed knowledge of the area until Baron Fyodor Tornau secretly investigated the coastal route from Gelendzhik to Gagra and across the mountains to Kabarda in the 1830s.

In 1838, the fort of Alexandria, renamed Navaginsky a year later, was founded at the mouth of the Sochi River as part of the Black Sea Coastal Line, a chain of fortifications set up to protect the area from recurring Circassian incursions. At the outbreak of the Crimean War, the garrison was evacuated from Navaginsky in order to prevent its capture by the Turks, who effected a landing on Cape Adler soon after.

The war over, the bulk of the Circassians relocated to the Ottoman Empire, leaving the littoral largely depopulated. As the coast was being resettled by Russians, Armenians, and Greeks, the abandoned fort was rebuilt in 1864 under the name of Dakhovsky, or Dakhovsky Posad (as it became known in 1874). In 1896, the burgeoning settlement was incorporated into the Black Sea Governorate and acquired its present name, which refers to the local river. Sochi was granted municipal rights in 1917.

During the Russian Civil War, the littoral saw sporadic armed clashes involving the Red Army, White movement forces and the Democratic Republic of Georgia. In 1923 Sochi acquired one of its most distinctive features, a railway which runs from Tuapse to Abkhazia within a mile or two from the coastline. Although this branch of the Northern Caucasus Railway may appear somewhat incongruous in the setting of beaches and sanatoriums, it is still operational and vital to the region's transportation infrastructure.

Sochi was established as a fashionable resort area under Joseph Stalin, who had his favourite dacha built in the city; Stalin's study, complete with a wax statue of the leader, is now open to the public.[2] It was at that time that the coast became dotted with imposing Neoclassical edifices, exemplified by the opulent Rodina and Ordzhonikidze sanatoriums. The centerpiece of an earlier period is Shchusev's Constructivist Institute of Rheumatology (1927-31). The area was extensively developed until the demise of the Soviet Union.

Following Russia's loss of traditionally popular resorts of the Crimean peninsula (which was summarily detached from the RSFSR by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954), Sochi emerged as the unofficial summer capital of the country. During Vladimir Putin's term in office, the city witnessed a significant increase in investment, although many Adygean vacationers still flock to the cheaper resorts of neighbouring Abkhazia or to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.


Year Population
1897 1,300
1926 13,000
1939 71,000
1959 127,000
1979 287,300
1989 336,514
2002 328,809
2006 329,481



Climate diagram (1961-1990), as prepared by USSR officials

Sochi has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen climate classification Cfa) at the lower elevations; with winter temperatures rarely falling much below freezing and with the average winter temperature of +6 °C (42.8 °F). The average summer high temperature ranges between +25 °C (77 °F) and +28 °C (82.4 °F) with occasional extreme heat in some interior locations exceeding +40 °C (104 °F). Average annual precipitation is 1,400 mm.[3][4][5]

Weather averages for Sochi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21.2 (70) 23.5 (74) 30.0 (86) 33.7 (93) 34.4 (94) 35.0 (95) 39.0 (102) 38.5 (101) 36.0 (97) 32.3 (90) 29.1 (84) 23.1 (74) 39.0 (102)
Average high °C (°F) 9.5 (49) 9.9 (50) 12.1 (54) 16.0 (61) 20.4 (69) 24.0 (75) 26.6 (80) 27.1 (81) 24.2 (76) 20.0 (68) 15.7 (60) 11.8 (53) 18.1 (65)
Average low °C (°F) 3.2 (38) 3.2 (38) 5.0 (41) 8.5 (47) 12.7 (55) 16.4 (62) 19.2 (67) 19.4 (67) 16.1 (61) 12.3 (54) 8.5 (47) 5.4 (42) 10.8 (51)
Record low °C (°F) -13.4 (8) -15.0 (5) -7.4 (19) -5.5 (22) 1.7 (35) 7.1 (45) 12.0 (54) 10.4 (51) 2.7 (37) -3.2 (26) -5.4 (22) -8.3 (17) -13.4 (8)
Precipitation mm (inch) 183 (7.2) 120 (4.7) 115 (4.5) 122 (4.8) 89 (3.5) 99 (3.9) 93 (3.7) 111 (4.4) 133 (5.2) 135 (5.3) 182 (7.2) 202 (8) 1,584 (62.4)
Source:[6] 7.09.2007

Layout and landmarks Edit

Sochi has the aspect of a subtropical resort. Apart from the scenic Caucasus Mountains, pebbly and sand beaches, the city attracts vacation-goers with its subtropical vegetation, numerous parks, monuments, and extravagant Stalinist architecture. About two million people visit Greater Sochi each summer[7], when the city is home to the annual film festival "Kinotavr" and a getaway for Adygea's elite.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 295,700-hectare (730,690-acre) Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, lies just north from the city.[8] Sochi also has Europe's most northerly tea plantations. It is served by the Adler-Sochi International Airport.

Sochi properEdit

Sochi sea port

Sochi Maritime Terminal

Sochi train station palmtree

Sochi rail station

Central City District, or Sochi proper, covers an area of 32 square kilometers (12.4 sq mi) and, as of 2002 Census has a population of 133,935. The highlights include:

  • Michael Archangel Cathedral, a diminutive church built in 1873-91 to Kaminsky's designs in order to commemorate the victorious conclusion of the Caucasian War.
  • The red-granite Archangel Column, erected in 2006 in memory of the Russian soldiers fallen in Sochi during the Caucasian War. It is capped by a 7-metre bronze statue of Sochi's patron saint, Michael the Archangel.
  • Sochi Art Museum occupies a large building with a four-columned portico, completed in 1939. The elegant Neoclassical design is considered to be the masterpiece of Ivan Zholtovsky.
  • Arboretum, a large botanical garden with tropical trees from many countries and the Mayors Alley - the line of palm-trees planted by the mayors of different cities of the world.
  • The Winter Theatre (1934-37) is another rigorously Neoclassical edifice, surrounded by 88 Corinthian columns, with a pediment bearing the statues of Terpsichore, Melpomene and Thalia, all three cast by Vera Mukhina.
  • The Maritime Passenger Terminal (1955) is notable for its distinctive 71-metre-high steepled tower and four statues symbolizing the cardinal points.
  • The Railway Terminal Station (1952) is probably Sochi's most familiar building, being the first landmark seen by visitors on approach to the city. It is a remarkable example of Stalinist architecture.
  • The Riviera Park was established by Aleksey Khludov's son in 1898 in the part of the city which later became known as Khludovskaya. The park is popular with tourists and local residents alike. It has a variety of attractions, including an outcrop of funny statues and a "glade of friendship" where magnolia trees were planted by every Soviet cosmonaut, among other notables.
  • The Tree of Freedom is a lemon tree planted by Otto Schmidt in 1934. Multiple cultivars from foreign countries were grafted onto this tree as a token of friendship. The associated museum boasts a collection of 20,000 presents from all over the world.

Lazarevsky City DistrictEdit

Subashi desant

The landing of Nikolay Raevsky's squadron at Subashi, as depicted in 1839 by Ivan Aivazovsky, an eyewitness to the event.

Lazarevsky City District lies to the north-west from the city centre and has a population of 63,239 people (2002 Census). It is the largest city district by area, covering some 1,744 square kilometers (673.4 sq mi) and comprising several microdistricts:

  • Lazarevskoye, 59 km from the downtown core, contains a delphinarium, an old church (1903) and a new church (1999). The settlement was founded as a Russian military outpost in 1839 and was named after Admiral Lazarev.
  • Loo, 18 km from the city centre, was once owned by Princes Loov, a noble Abkhazian family claiming patrilineal discent from King Anos, whose royal title was sanctioned by Emperor Heraclius in 623 AD. The district contains the ruins of a medieval church, founded in the 8th century, rebuilt in the 11th century, and converted into a fortress in the Late Middle Ages.
  • Dagomys, 18 km from the city centre, has been noted for its botanical garden, established by order of Nicholas II, as well as tea plantations and factories. A sprawling hotel complex was opened there in 1982. Dagomys adjoins Bocharov Ruchey, a dacha built for Kliment Voroshilov in the 1950s, but later upgraded into a country residence of the President of Russia, where he normally spent his vacations and often confers with leaders of other states.
  • Golovinka is a historic location at the mouth of the Shakhne River. Formerly marking the border between the Ubykhs and the Shapsugs, the settlement was noted by Italian travellers of the 17th century as Abbasa. On 3 May 1838, it was the site of the Subashi landing of the Russians, who proceeded to construct Fort Golovinsky where many convicted Decembrists used to serve. The fort was intentionally destroyed by Russian forces at the beginning of the Crimean War, so as to avoid its capture by the enemy.
  • Fort Godlik, of which little remains, had a turbulent history. It was built at the mouth of the Godlik River in the Byzantine period (5th to 8th centuries), was destroyed by the Khazars and revived by the Genoese in the High Middle Ages.

Khostinsky City DistrictEdit


The Mount Akhun observation tower

Khostinsky City District, sprawling to the south-east from the city centre, occupies approximately 374 square kilometers (144.4 sq mi), with a population of 62,515 (2002 Census). The district is traversed by many rivulets which give their names to the sub-districts of Matsesta ("flame-coloured river"), Kudepsta, and Khosta ("the river of boars"):

  • Matsesta has been a spa since 1902. A 1,316-metre long tunnel, constructed between 1996 and 2000, connects it to Khosta and Sochi proper. The area does not retain many marks of antiquity, although the eponymous river was noted as Masaitica as early as 137 AD, in a letter from Arrian to Emperor Hadrian.
  • Kudepsta is another seashore resort, notable for the Vorontsov Caves, stretching for some four kilometers away from the shore. There are fourteen entrances to the caves. The largest hall has a length of twenty meters.
  • Khosta is an old village, attested in medieval documents as Casto and Khamysh. It contains the ruins of a medieval church, going back to the 14th century, and the comparatively modern Transfiguration Church, consecrated in 1914. Khosta has an array of tourist attractions:
    • Khosta Fortress, or rather the ruins thereof, perched on the top of a 100-metre high cliff within six kilometers from the sea coast.
    • The fortress stands on the grounds of an ancient grove of yews and boxwood, which may be up to 30 mya old. The largest yews attain a height of 50 metres; some are estimated to be 2,000 years old. The grove covers an area of 301 ha and has been affiliated with the Caucasian Bioshere Reserve since 1931.
    • The Akhun massif comprises Greater Akhun Mtn. (663 m), Lesser Akhun Mtn. (501 m), and Eagle Bluff (380 m). Greater Akhun is crowned by a Neo-Romanesque limestone tower (1936) that offers glimpses of Pitsunda and Gagra across the border in Abkhazia. There is also a chain of twenty karst caves in the massif.
    • The Sochi Arboretum, which goes back to 1889, possesses the most comprehensive collection of subtropical flora in Adygea, including 76 species of pine, 80 species of oak, and 24 species of palm.
    • The Summer Theatre is a rather ordinary Neoclassical structure, erected in 1937 and extensively renovated in 2001.

Adlersky City District Edit


View of Adlersky City District from Khosta

Adlersky City District, with an area of 1,352 square kilometers (522 sq mi) and a population of 69,120 people (2002 Census), is the southernmost district of the city, located just north of the border with Abkhazia. Until the establishment of Greater Sochi in 1961, it was administered as a separate town, which had its origin in an ancient Sadz village and a medieval Genoese trading post.

Among the natural wonders of the district is the Akhshtyr Gorge with a 160-metre-long cave which contains traces of human habitation about 30,000 years ago. The upland part of the district includes a network of remote mountain villages (auls), the Estonian colony at Estosadok, and the ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana which will host the snow events (alpine and Nordic) of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

It is also possible to visit the largest trout farm in Adygea (founded in 1964) and a breeding nursery for great apes.

Sports facilitiesEdit

Sochi is also known for its sport facilities: a local tennis school spawned the careers of such notable players as Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova and Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Kafelnikov spent much of his childhood here, while Sharapova relocated to Florida at the age of 7).

Notable people from SochiEdit

Sister citiesEdit

Sochi is twinned with the following cities:

See alsoEdit


  1. Port of Sochi at Retrieved on July 7, 2007.
  2. Stalin's ghost haunts Black Sea hotel at Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved on July 7, 2007.
  3. Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Entry on Sochi (Russian)
  4. V. A. Drozdov, O. B. Glezer, T. G. Nefedova and I. V. Shabdurasulov (1992). Ecological and geographical characteristics of the coastal zone of the Black Sea. GeoJournal 27.2, 169-178.
  5. Elena A. Rybak, Oleg O. Rybak and Yuri V. Zasedatelev (1994). Complex geographical analysis of the Greater Sochi region on the Black Sea coast. GeoJournal 34.4, 507-513.
  6. (Russian). Retrieved on September 7, 2007.
  7. "Сочи, Пхенчхан и Зальцбург - претенденты на Олимпиаду-2014" (in Russian), ITAR-TASS, 2007-07-04. Retrieved on 2007-07-09. Archived from the original on 2007-07-05. 
  8. Western Caucasus at Unesco Heritage Site and Google Maps search for Sochi near 44°N 40°E. Retrieved on July 7, 2007.
  9. Official website of Cheltenham
  10. Website of the President of France
  11. Official website of Rimini
  12. Official website of Espoo
  13. Sister Cities information obtained from Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI)]. Retrieved on July 5, 2007.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Official website of Sochi (international). The page spotlights similarities of the twin towns to Sochi in that all of them are "summer resorts".
  15. "Греческий Волос и российский Сочи стали городами-побратимами", Interfax, 2007-05-26. Retrieved on 2007-07-08. 

External linksEdit



Adygeya - Coat of Arms Cities and towns in the Republic of Adygea Flag of Adygea
Capital: Maykop

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