Known as the “Pearl of Russia,” Sochi is Russia’s top resort city. Located at the base of the Caucasus Mountains and right off the coast of the Black Sea, Sochi is known for its winter sports and resort living. With plenty to do and see at any time of the year, the people of Sochi live a leisure lifestyle.
Like many Russian cities, religion was at the center of Sochi’s development. The remains of this life style can be seen in the architecture throughout the city. From the 6th to the 11th century churches were built to mark the boundaries of the city. The land was extremely sought after by many surrounding countries, which led to hostility between the local tribes and foreigners.
Russia obtained the coastline of Sochi in 1829 as a result of the Caucasian War and Russian Turkish War. Russians were dominant in the laws of the land and welcomed many migrants from surrounding Black Sea nations. From that moment Sochi established its presence in architecture that is still seen in the Sochi landscape.
From 1900 to 1910, Sochi began its first attempts at reconstruction of the city to become the first sea resort city in Russia. Under Soviet power, Sochi was completely rebuilt and transitioned into modern times while maintaining their historic background. Joseph Stalin, who had his favorite vacation home built in the city, headed the renovation of the Sochi coast in the 1930s. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the development of Sochi was put on hold.
Sochi became a city of health care full of hospitals and sanitariums built throughout the city. During World War II, the city served as a military hospital base, from which approximately 500,000 soldiers and officers were able to rejoin fighting at the front lines after receiving treatment. According to local tour guides, the Nazi’s spared Sochi from any damage so that after the war they could return to the city for rest and relaxation.
Sochi continues to draw anyone in with their natural sulfur springs, spa and health getaways, ports for cruise ships, high end shopping, exquisite dining and winter sports available in the mountains. The unique atmosphere of Sochi is noticeable upon arrival.
- The spas and sanitariums from the city’s past are still maintained today. The Matsesta Springs are said to cure any ailment by just bathing in them for 15 minutes. The spa provides a number of bathing rooms and massage tables for guests. There are other places, such as Narzan, where one can go stay in a type of campsite as a retreat. The mineral waters at Narzan are free for the public to use.
There are many parks featuring plants native to the land and cultural aspects of the area. Riviera Park, located in the heart of Sochi greets visitors with a pearl clock at the front gate. Within the park, visitors will find games, local vendors, statues and art galleries, and fountains. Riviera Park is also the home of the magnolia trees planted by the Russian and American astronauts for a peaceful space mission.
- There are many various museums displaying the culture and history of the area. Within the city limits, there are various churches and cathedrals. The Olympic Museum is an ever-changing museum, growing and changing, as the city is in order to accommodate the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The pier of the Black Sea boasts many stores that line the shoreline. It is here that anything can be found from hair salons, souvenir shops, high-end fashion shops, and even locally grown tea. The pier is currently being renovated for the 2014 Olympics, but will remain true to its city and one of the highlights to see when visiting.
Just off the pier is the Bosco Team Russia Olympics store featuring all of the official sports gear for Russia for the 2014 Olympics. Even stuffed mascots are available for purchase.
Throughout the city, luxury stores can be found such as Dior and other name brand sporting goods stores. With all of the higher-priced stores, there is a multitude of affordable shopping mixed into the same area.
As Sochi grows and expands, so will its shopping areas. Within the next couple of years, a new shopping center will open, called the Sea Mall. This is just one of the many things that Sochi residents are excited about.
Construction is booming throughout the city from the new shopping malls to the official Olympic buildings. Throughout the main part of city, new buildings are beginning to arise and the older buildings are in the process of remodeling.
There are three federal programs that at currently working on improving Sochi and preparing for the Olympics. There is the federal special purpose program that is working on building infrastructure and roads throughout Sochi. The regional special-purpose program will cover the cost of construction and reconstruction of residential buildings, polyclinics, and hospitals. The third program is "Sochi: A Hospitable Place" which is a program to help prepare the people of Sochi for the incoming influx of tourists.
The construction throughout Sochi is focused into three main clusters: the beach cluster, the mountain cluster, and the city cluster.
The beach cluster has a variety a different venues being constructed. The main stadium for Sochi has a very unique structure that seems to represent both the coastal and mountain regions of Sochi. The Bolshoi Ice Palace is being constructed in the same area as the main stadium and the Bolshoi Palace will be able to accommodate 12,000 spectators and will be covered by a dome. Along with the Bolshoi Palace the Maly Palace will be constructed in the same vicinity as well. This will be a smaller stadium and will be a moveable venue and can be transported to other areas of Russia after the Olympics.
- In the mountain cluster, there will be four world-class ski resorts constructed by 2014. Which is soon to be home of one of the largest ski resorts in Europe. The city part of Sochi is currently under the most construction as well as the most scrutiny. By 2014, the city will have renovated more than 70 percent of the city's residential buildings. The owners of local buildings that need to be renovated will be given a chance to refurbish their buildings without paying for professional designers or architects because they will be provided by the city.