Definitions

Sochi

Sochi

[soh-chee; Russ. saw-chyi]
Sochi, city (1989 pop. 337,000), Krasnodar Territory, S European Russia, on the east shore of the Black Sea, in the foothills of the Caucasus. It is a port and subtropical resort, established as a spa in 1902. Tourism is important to the city. Sochi will be the host city for the 2014 winter Olympics.
Sochi (Сочи, ) is a Russian resort city, situated in Krasnodar Krai just north of the southern Russian border. It sprawls along the shores of the Black Sea and against the background of the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. At , Greater Sochi is claimed to be the longest city in Europe. As of the 2002 Census, it had a population 328,809, down from 336,514 recorded in the 1989 Census. In 2006, the population was estimated to be 395,012. The city has been selected to be the host of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014.

History

The Zygii people lived in the area in antiquity. From the 6th to the 15th centuries, the area successively belonged to the Christian kingdoms of Western Georgian Kingdom 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 part of historical Circassia, and was controlled by the native people of the north-west Caucasus 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 Caucasian_War and Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829.

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 the native people of Sochi(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. After the fall of Circassia and the Russian Massacres against the Circassian tribes in 1864, 90% of the remaining survivors of these tribes were enforced to leave Circassia again to the Ottoman Empire with their brother's in faith such as Chechens, Dagistans, Balqars,etc.and these massacres considered the ugliest human genocide against Circassian/Adyghe_people in the 18th-19th Centuries.and as a result the Circassians became minority in their historical land Circassia. Forgotten Genocide. Circassian World. .

The war over, the bulk of the Circassians relocatedwere deported/enforced to leave Circassia to the Ottoman Empire as a result to the massacres against them, leaving the littoral area 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 area 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. 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 the traditionally popular resorts of the Crimean peninsula (which was transferred away from the RSFSR 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 Russian vacationers still flock to the cheaper resorts of neighboring Abkhazia, Ukraine, or to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

Population

Year Total population Urban population
1897 1,300 no data
1926 13,000 no data
1939 71,000 no data
1959 127,000 no data
1979 287,300 no data
1989 336,514 no data
2002 397,103 328,809
2006 395,012 329,481
2007 402,043 331,059

Climate

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 . The average summer high temperature ranges between and with occasional extreme heat in some interior locations exceeding . Average annual precipitation is 1,400 mm.

Layout and landmarks

Sochi is almost alone among larger Russian cities as having 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, when the city is home to the annual film festival "Kinotavr" and a getaway for Russia's elite.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 2,957 km² (730,690 acre) Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, lies just north from the city. Sochi also has Europe's most northerly tea plantations. It is served by the Adler-Sochi International Airport. The Sochi Light Metro is being built, with construction projected to be complete by 2014.

Sochi proper

Central City District, or Sochi proper, covers an area of 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 Friendship 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 District

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 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 descent 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 spends 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 District

Khostinsky City District, sprawling to the south-east from the city centre, occupies approximately , 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 Biosphere 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 Russia, 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

Adlersky City District, with an area of and a population of 69,120 people (2002 Census), is the southmost 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-meter-long cave that contains traces of human habitation from 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 events (Alpine and Nordic) of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Also located here are the largest trout fishery in Russia (founded in 1964) and a breeding nursery for great apes.

Sports facilities

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). In late 2005, the Russian Football Union announced that it was planning to establish a year-round training centre for the country's national teams in Sochi. The city's warm climate was cited as one of the main incentives.

2014 Winter Olympics

In June 2006, the International Olympic Committee announced that Sochi had been selected as a finalist city to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. On July 4, 2007, Sochi was announced as the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, edging out Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Salzburg, Austria.

This will be Russia's first occasion to host the Winter Olympic Games. Under the rule of the Soviet Union, Alpine skiing was considered by the ruling party to be a bourgeois and decadent sport and nobody had any Alpine skiing facilities in Russia or anywhere else. Locations like Sochi did not even apply to be the location of the Winter Olympics, and no athletes from the Soviet Union entered the Alpine skiing events. As for the Soviets, their entries in the Winter Olympics were cross-country skiing, speed skating, figure skating, and ice hockey. Hence, the Alpine skiing facilities in the former Soviet Union states are generally poor. They do not have the ski-resort tradition of places like Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy, Norway, the United States, Canada, and Japan, all of which have hosted or will host the Winter Olympics on more than one occasion.

The site of a training center for aspiring Olympic athletes, as of 2008, Sochi has no world-class level athletic facilities fit for international competition. To get the city ready for the Olympics, the Russian government has committed to a $12 billion investment package, shared 60-40 between the government and private sector. By some estimates, the investments necessary to bring the location up to Olympic standards may exceed that of any previous Olympic games.

Environmental impact

"Sadly, the Olympic bid is being used as a way for construction companies simply to get their hands on the most valuable land," Greenpeace Russia’s Mikhail Kreindlin said. "The last time the Russian government looked at this issue, which was in January, 2007 they made no mention of the Olympic bid. They simply said that the land could be used for social infrastructure, whereas it was patently obvious that it would be snapped up by elite resorts and golf clubs [with] nothing to do with the Olympics." Putin had apparently chided construction firms working round-the-clock to get Sochi up to ready, the St. Petersburg Times reported. "It would be a huge mistake not to take into account what the environmental organizations think", said Putin. "We are going to make sure that builders maintain contact with" environmentalists, who had voiced concerns about the work’s impact on the Sochi National Park, in Western Caucasus.

Greenpeace Russia had told the US-funded Radio Liberty on 12 September 2006 that it wanted to prevent construction work inside a national park, which it said would break Russia's environmental protection laws.

Construction work

The state-controlled Unified Energy Systems announced in July 2007 that it might spend 30 billion roubles (about US $1.2 billion dollars) on upgrading the electrical power system in the Sochi area by 2014. The utility would have to build or modernize four thermal power plants and four hydroelectric plants — and replace the Central-Shepsi electricity transmission line, which reportedly often fails in bad weather. The new power line would run partly on power towers and partly across the bottom of the Black Sea. By 2011, the power company would increase the resort area's power supply by 1129 MW — of which 300 MW would be used for Olympic sports facilities “The cost of the work is estimated at 83.6 billion roubles (about US $3.26 billion), of which 50 billion roubles (about US $2.0 billion dollars) will go to investments in the electricity grid,” power company announced. They did not say how much of the bill the state would foot. In February 2007, when UES had planned to spend 48.8 billion roubles (about US $1.9 billion) on the Sochi area, the share the state had been ready to pay had been 38 billion roubles (about US $1.48 billion) of that.

The coming of 2014 Olympics also urges the construction of a medium capacity rapid transit system, the Sochi Light Metro. The current alignment would connect the Sochi Olympic Village, Sochi International Airport, two major railway stations of Northern Caucasus Railway, the downtown of Sochi, and the Alpine skiing area Krasnaya Polyana.

Notable people from Sochi

Sister cities

Sochi has been twinned with the following cities:

See also

References

External links

Olympic-related

Other

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