What to see in Sochi, Russia
- Stalinist period Empire Style buildings. The modern-period architecture history in Sochi started from the general construction plan of 1934. During the Stalinist period (till 1953) many monumental buildings around Greater Sochi were built. Among them are: Sochi central train terminal, Sochi seaport, The Winter Theatre, Sochi Art museum, and numerous resort hotels, such as Metallurg, Lazarevskoe etc.
- Stalin’s Summer Residence, 120, Kurortny – Khosta district. Initially a merchant’s Mikhailovskoe estate, taken by Bolsheviks and later converted into Stalin’s residence by Miron Merzhanov, Soviet chief architect. Stalin visited this dacha quite often, having numerous meetings with top-echelon politicians, such as China‘s Chairman Mao. Inside is a museum with many personal belongings and Stalin’s waxwork. There are also legends about Stalin’s phantom, still walking around this place by nights.
- Godlik fortress, Kurskaya St, Chemitokvadzhe – Lazarevskoe district. The remains of a Byzantine triangle fortress, which was initially built in 4-5 centuries A.D. Despite of the poor condition of this sight, it still has remained towers and part of limestone walls.
- Loo temple, Loo – Lazarevskoe district. Another Byzantine site, and also in poor condition. Located at the hilltop away from the sea (1.5 km), it was initially built in 10-12 centuries, rebuilt in 14th century and converted into a fortress in 15-16 centuries.
Among the traditional Russian set of monuments left as a legacy of the collapsed Soviet Union, Sochi has several original artworks worth to be explored by the city’s guests.
- Anchor and Cannon, Pushkinsky park – Central (near Primorskaya street). The oldest monument in the city, built in 1913. An original 19th century cannon and 18th century anchor symbolize the victory of Russian army in Russian-Ottoman war of 1828-1829.
- Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, Vinogradnaya, 14 – Central (at Krashmashevsky resort hotel area). Probably, the only one monument to these key anti-fascist coalition leaders in Russia. Erected in 2008 by an Israeli sculptor Frank Meisler. Two copies of the monument were granted to the U.S. and UK. At the same place, a historical museum of World War II was opened. edit
- The Feat for Life memorial, Riviersky pereulok – Central (At the entrance to Riviera Park). An architectural ensemble dedicated to medical personnel of Sochi, who returned back to life more than half-million casualties during the World War II. The monument is a steel arc with the marble statues of physicians, nurses and wounded people at its pediment.
- The Golden Fleece, Ploschad Isskustv – Central (near Sochi Art Museum). A symbolic composition, illustrating a well-known Classical Greek myth about Argonauts and the Golden Fleece, was opened in 2008. Between two elegant columns the gold-plated sheep skin is stretched, guarded by a dragon. The sculptor implemented the idea of historical bridge between Greece and Olympic Sochi.
- The Singing Fontains, Kurortny – Central. Located in the center of the city, at the corner of Kurortny Prospekt and Navaginskaya street, at the entrance to Sochi Trade Gallery. A pool with numerous water streams, and special sound and visual hardware, allowing the water to “sing” and “dance” in rhythym. The fontains operate only in summer evenings, when their visual effects are the best-seen. Initially constructed in 1970, the Singing Fontains were totally renovated in 2009.
- Zavokzalny War Memorial, Zavokzalny subdistrict – Central. The memorial to Sochi soldiers, who died during the World War II, and the burial place for more than 2,000 of them, built in 1985 to 40th Victory Anniversary. At the hilltop there are memory desks with soldier names, as a semicircle surrounding an eternal light. Overlooking Central Sochi, this place has become a non-avoidable photosession point for weddings in the city.
- Olympic Countdown Clock, (near Sochi seaport). Installed and launched in May (Olympic) and June (Paralympic) of 2011, 1,000 days before the start of Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games. An innovatively looking construction, worth to see.
- Sochi Art Museum, Kurortny, 51 – Central. 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. 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, archaeological 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. 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.
- A.C. Art Gallery of Wood Plastic, Zvezdnaya street, 1, office 24 – Khosta district. 10:00-08:00.The individual art gallery of a talented Sochian wooden sculptor, Alexander Sobol. The exposition of over 500 wonderful wooden works accompanied with specially composed music. 1-hour guided tours are provided.
- Riviera Park, Yegorova, 1 – Central. The most popular and the biggest public park of Greater Sochi, established in 1898 and fully renovated 100 years after. Riviera is an all-season sight. In summer it offers shadow and numerous leisure attractions, while in winter its silent alleys attract fans of quiet walks and solitude. The park has restaurants and bars, sports facilities, leisure centers, a cinema, and other attractions. The Green Theatre of the park is a venue for frequent concerts and festivals. But the main point of interest is probably Friendship Alley, established in 1960, with trees planted by famous politicians, celebrities and other well-known people. For example, 45 Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts planted their trees at this site. Free entrance.
- Dendrarium(Dendrary Botanical Garden), 74, Kurortny – Khosta district. 08:00-21:00 daily. The best park at the Black Sea coast, where a wide variety of trees’ species is collected. A beautiful, shadowy, and well-managed place, excellent for leisure, unhurried walking etc. Use cable-car to get to the mountain from the coastal part of Dendrarium and discover a scenic panoramic view of the sea and Caucasus ridges.
- Park of Southern Cultures, Adler district. Another dendrary botanical garden located in Adler, at river Mzymta’s left bank. Established in 1910, the park collected more than 5,500 plant species from all over the world, blossoming round the year. At a single place you can find 300-year oaks, blossoming sakura, and Chinese fan palms. There are also ponds with water lilies and lotuses, inhabited by swans and ducks. The park with its outstanding landscape and biodiversity is definitely among the best such objects in Russia.
- Frunze Park, Chernomorskaya st – Khosta district. One of the oldest resort parks in the city, located in the coastal park of Khosta district, near Dendrarium, having at its area the Summer Theatre, venues for sports, and an amazing cascaded fontain.
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.
Τhe Olympic Park wασ used for the Games opening and closing ceremonies, hockey, skating and curling competitions, and all medal award ceremonies. After the Games the park becαme the city’s legacy, while several competition venues will be transferred to other locations in Russia and the Olympic Village facilities weρε converted into hotels and apartments.
- Sochi Discovery World Aquarium, Lenin 219а / 4 – Adler. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The largest oceanarium in Russia, and one of the largest ones in Europe. Standard, but impressive variety of marine species is complemented with a wide array of Russia’s freshwater species of fish.
- Aquarium and Marine Zoo, 4 Cheltenham alley – Khosta district (New Matsesta). Summer 09:00-20:00 daily, winter 10:00-18:00 daily. Open in 2005. It is possible to participate in feeding animals, such as sharks, penguins, hippopotamus etc.
- Oceanarium at Riviera Park, Yegorova, 1 – Central. Summer 10:00-midnight daily, winter 10:00-21:00 daily. The most centrally located aquarium, however, not the most impressive one.
- Adler Dolphinarium, Lenin 219а – Adler. Summer Tu-Su 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00. Winter Sa Su and holidays, 15:30. Sochi representation of Utrish Delfinarium of Novorossiysk. 50-minute performance of dolphins is conducted round the year, the pool is 20 metres in width and six metres in depth. The place holds up to 1,000 spectators.
- Monkey Nursery Center, Vesyoloe, 1 – Adler district (Marshrutka / bus 134). The place is owned by the only Russian scientific institute of medical primatology of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. It is famous for monkey preparation for experimental space flights, starting from non-manned period of space exploration. Here animals pass the spaceflight training, accustom to spaceship conditions etc. The center has large area, where 2,700 friendly animals of more than 11 monkey species live (primarily macaques). Nursery itself is 1.5-km walk from the entrance. Open for visiting.
As a rule with some exceptions, Sochi outdoor sights are located inside the area of Sochi National Park. This means that in some cases you will need to pay the park entrance fee. All major sights attract both independent travellers and guided groups. Tours can be arranged at hotels or at the hot tourist areas in the city.
- Mount Akhun, Khosta district. Mount Akhun is the highest Greater Sochi coastal point famous as the best panoramic view of the city. The castle-looking tower on its 700-meter top gives a perfect overlook of the city. It is probably even possible to see the remote Turkish coast, if the weather and visibility are fine. Taking a trail down from Mt. Akhun, it is possible to get to the nearby Agurskoe Canyon, another popular destination with a cascade of 3 waterfalls surrounded by high cliffs. It is spoken to be the oldest tourist sight in the city. Outside of the waterfalls there is the place called Eagle Rockwith few caves around. As a legend says, Eagle Rock is the place, where Prometheus (Classical Greek god of fire) was enchained. To reach Mount Akhun and its surroundings it is best to use a car/taxi. Using a bus, take route 110 from Central Sochi to Sputnik stop. In this case you will need to climb the mountain (2-3 hours walk)
- Yew & boxtree wood, Khosta district. An exclave of Caucasian Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage List item, yew and boxtree wood occupies 3 square kilometres at one of the Mt. Akhun slopes. This is a unique nature sight with over 700 plant species, some of those are relicts remained unchanged for 30 million years. There are also endemic species and very aged plants, like 2 thousand years old trees. The wood has 20 endangered species included into the IUCN Red List. If you are not going to use car or taxi to reach it, take marshrutka route 122 from Central Sochi to Khosta. The stop you need is “Khosta-most”. From that walk by Samshitovaya street till the road turning and the pointer. Soon after the turn a usual group of taxi cars act as the sign of the entrance to the wood.
- Vorontsovka Caves, Vorontsovka village – Khosta district. The mountain part of Greater Sochi area contains over 400 caves in total. The most known of them is the complex of caves in Vorontsovka village of Khosta district. It consists of 3 interconnected parts (Kabanya, Vorontsovskaya and Labirintovaya) with total lenght of 11 km and the height difference of 240 m. This is one of the largest cave systems in Caucasus, a significant part of it is open for visiting.
- Dagomys Tea-Party Houses, Dagomys and Uch-Dere – Lazarevskoe district. The world northernmost tea has been cultivated in Sochi since 1887, as “Krasnodar Tea” brand. There are group tours to Dagomys Tea Plant, and also, on a hill in Uch-Dere there are tea-party houses, open for visiting. There you can find out how tea is grown, collected and manufactured. You will be offered a tea-party with samovar, pirozhki, pancakes, jam, and folk songs. As a bonus, at the place there is a museum with traditional Russian crafts exposition.
- 33 waterfalls, Lazarevskoe district. There are several waterfall locations in Greater Sochi area. This certain one is a bit remote, but contains as many as thirty three waterfalls, those are not so high (1.3 to 10 metres), but very scenic ones. They are best seen in spring, when rains and snow melting at mountains bring more water. Dzhegosh stream has only 2 km lenght flowing down to Shakhe river not far from a traditional Circassian settlement Bolshoy Kichmay, 11 km from the sea coast, Golovinka sub-district and regular public transportation. To get to waterfalls less cheaper, but more suitable is to use a taxi or to join an organized tour.
- Trout Farm, Forelevaya st, 45, Kazachiy Brod settlement – Adler. The largest fish farm in Russia, includes 131 ponds for trout and 6 more for carps. This is not only a farm, but also an amazing tourist spot. Visiting it, you can get information about trout planting, watch the fish, feed it, and even go fishing at ponds. It’s also possible to buy incredibly tasty smoked trout at the place.
- Akhtyrshskaya Cave, Adler district. Many of Sochi caves were inhabited by primeval people. Akhtyrshkaya cave is among them, having many petroglyphic drawings and other primeval remains. Take a bus/marshrutka 106 to its ending point (Trout Farm). Cross the street from the bus stop and go to the tunnel. Turn right close to the tunnel and go down to Mzymta river and a monkey bridge. Prior to the bridge go left and up to the entrance to the cave. There is beautiful scenery and panoramic view close to the cave: cross Mzymta river and take the trail left and up.