Sochi is the Russian Riviera. Sand and pebble beaches stretch nearly 20 miles along the Black Sea coast. Here are the northernmost subtropics in the world. Similar to Northern California, you can swim in the sea from April through October, and ski on the nearby slopes from October into May. The semi-tropical weather allows for a lush terrain found nowhere else in Russia.
Sochi is almost all mountains, forest, and beach. More than 80% of the territory is part of a national park or the Caucasian State Biosphere Reserve. Historical and architectural monuments, unique flora and fauna, magnificent panoramas, mysterious canyons and caves, and noisy waterfalls are all found in Sochi's parks.
Sochi's roots are ancient. The area was settled about 400,000 years ago. According to the Cambridge "Guide to Prehistoric Man" the local Akhshtyrskaya Cave is the northernmost point in southeastern Europe which Cro-Magnon men, the first ancestors of Europeans, inhabited.
The territory of Sochi became part of Russia at the end of the Caucasian War. Officially founded in 1898, Sochi was set aside as a resort area. It's fate was decided when mineral springs were discovered throughout the area. Since then it has been developed as a health resort and is now the best in Russia.
Sochi has a number of other attractions here besides its beaches. The third largest botanical gardens in the former Soviet Union are located here, the only tea plantations in Russia, as well as a host of other great day trips into the Caucasus mountains with beautiful waterfalls and mountain meadows. There are great opportunities to travel into the nearby Caucasus mountains from here, so anyone interested in mountain climbing, hiking, caving or mountain-biking will love the Sochi region. The highest summit in Europe, Mt. Elbrus is located not very far from Sochi.
Although it could be said that Sochi is not a typical Russian city filled with Russian culture in the typical sense, it differs in that Russian culture comes to Sochi--to rest and either attend or perform at the many festivals. Nearly every Russian musical group and performer will make a stop in Sochi, and the many vacationers are a ready audience. Kinotavr, the international film festival held in June, is one of the entertainment highlights of the year, with two weeks of back-to-back Russian and foreign film and chances to see Russian stars. Sochi is the place to see not only Russia's rich and famous, but also the thousands of Russian vacationers who continue their annual tradition of a rest on the Black Sea.
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