The city is set in the Krasnodar Krai which stretches 145 km (90 miles) along the Black Sea, making Sochi the second longest city in the world behind only Mexico City. The resort has a long history that dates back to Ancient Greek and Roman times when the area was inhabited by the Zygii people. The first Russian settlement on the site was called Fort Alexander founded in 1838 at the mouth of Sochi River. In fact Sochi is a relatively new name for the city, as it was first called that in 1896. The name has two possible sources: it could be a variation of the term "sshatche" was used by the local people to mean "place by the sea" or "shacha" which locals used to mean "sell a head" because the territory of the town used to be where slave markets were held.
One of the first big names to put Sochi on the map was Soviet leader Joseph Stalin - he built his favorite vacation home, or dacha here. The city was also known as the "All-Union health resort" of the Soviet Union and after the collapse of the USSR, the city was in fact the only Black Sea resort in Russia. It is still famous today for its recreation facilities. It is here that many well-to-do Russians go to rejuvenate in some of the most popular healing mineral springs in Russia. The best known of these vibrant spas is the Matsesta Sulfur Springs, renowned since antiquity as the “fiery river” springs because of the tanned hue that a treatment in its waters leaves. A legend says that a local girl bravely wandered into the underworld and brought back its healing waters to the surface as a gift from the spirits below.
Natural mineral springs are but a component of Sochi’s vast collection of natural attractions encompassed in the nearby Caucasian State Nature Biosphere Reserve. The Agura and Orekhovskaya waterfalls are perhaps the most strikingly beautiful representations of these attractions, but the mountains also hide mysterious caves where traces exist of the first humans who migrated northward through here into Neanderthal-dominated Europe some 35,000 years ago. Sochi also boasts a large trout farm, as well as a spectacular dolphinarium and aquatheater.
What is more, the air quality in Sochi is excellent, due in part to the fact that the city boasts nearly 500,000 acres of forests, with about 10,000 of those acres located in the city center! Sochi has a beautiful collection of parks, including a botanical garden and arboretum with rare and exotic species of tropical flora, as well as beautiful coastal promenades and trails. Daily walks are considered by many local experts as important for the restoration of health to the body and mind, so its not unusual to find a large number of strollers on scenic pedestrian byways like the gorgeous Eagle Rocks path.
Sochi also contains a special tea plantation, the only one in Russia, and the northernmost in the world. Its tea-house’s picturesque view of the Black Sea from the exclusive Dagomys district provides the perfect setting for sampling Russia’s home-grown offerings.Another interesting fact about this city is that it is merely a 37-hours train ride away from Russia’s capital Moscow!
In addition to its status of a resort city, Sochi is known for its sports facilities. For example, Sochi tennis schools have trained such athletes as Maria Sharapova. With so much local attention to health and exercise, the International Olympics Committee found Sochi to be the obvious choice to host the 2014 Winter Games. The 22nd Winter Olympics welcomed thousands of visitors, and the attention of millions of international television viewers, to this proud resort area. The Games were a first for the Russian Federation - the Moscow Olympics of 1980 were, in fact, hosted by the Soviet Union, a now an extinct country.
The city has undergone a number of immense changes with billions of rubles spent on preparing the city and the nearby Krasnaya Polyana skiing area for hosting this world event. All competitions took place in two areas: the newly constructed Coastal Cluster, for indoor ice events, and the Mountain Cluster - featuring a renovated Krasnaya Polyana for all downhill and skiing sports. The two clusters are only 30 minutes apart from each other, making the 22nd Winter Olympic games one of the most compact ever held.
The Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix is held here as well until at least 2020 and Sochi is one of the host towns for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. So it is fair to say that Sochi is clearly familiar with top-notch athletes! Yet it would be fair to say that Sochi is long used to being among the most glamorous spots in Russia. Since 1909, Russian glitterati have thronged here, and movie stars have been a regular feature at the city’s Kinotavr Film Festival every June since 1991. The Russian president himself maintains a dacha near the tea plantation in Dagomys, which is used to entertain foreign heads of state.
Thus Sochi is a worthy stop on any autograph-hunter’s itinerary, what is more, Travel All Russia organizes tours to Sochi for both summer and winter seasons, putting any globetrotting trendsetter well ahead of the style curve.