Sochi’s oldest mosque was built in the Adyghe village of Tkhagapsh, Lazarevsky District, in the late 19th century. It was closed down in the 1930s, and the building was converted for use as a warehouse. It would take 63 years for the mosque to be returned to the Muslim community. This is the only mosque on the Russian Black Sea coast that had survived antireligious persecution in the USSR. The mosque was returned in such a shabby condition that its use as a house of worship could not resume immediately. A campaign was initiated to raise funds for the restoration of the priceless mosque. Following the reconstruction, the modest single-story wooden mosque reopened for service in 2010.

The monastery in the village of Solokh-Aul was founded in 2000, but local old people claim that hermits had lived in these parts as far as a hundred years back. The monastery was designed by Boris Babakov to resemble the monastic communities of Mount Athos, combining a church, cells of the brethren, and a refectory, all in the same building. The house church is on the second floor. The monks live by the Mount Athos rules here.

There are three monk-priests, a hermit, and a number of monks and novitiates in the monastery, headed by a father superior. The chimes of the small bell-cote resound across the gorge, reaching the nearest villages. People come to the Holy Cross Monastery to pray and attend the services from across the region and farther a-field.

The cloister has several sacred objects in its custody: a fragment of the Life-Giving Holy Cross, and several icons with particles of holy relics, including the wonderworking Icon of Our Lady “The Three-Handed.”
Sergey Bobylev/ТАSS

This church, dedicated to Prince Vladimir, who converted Russia to Christianity, was built in Sochi in 2011. Multicoloured and lavishly decorated like a fairytale palace, it towers over downtown Sochi.

It took five years to build the Church of St. Vladimir, designed by Dmitry Sokolov. The building is engirded by a tile cornice of many colours, above which Birds of Paradise soar, and adorned with four-meter ceramic statues of eight Apostles. There are mosaic icons on the tiled walls, corbel arches with vaulted crowning features on the head-crown, and gold-plated miniature onion domes over every entrance. The external splendour is matched by the dazzling radiance inside: the icons painted by Palekh artists, the deep-carved wood, and the iconostasis, consisting of a multitude of finest elements, covered with a few kilograms of gold leaf. St. Vladimir’s is a typical parish church in terms of spatial design, shaped like a ship facing east. First comes the belfry space, then the refectory space, then the church proper and finally, the altar.

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Three nuns from Russia, Ukraine and Belorussia founded this convent in the village of Lesnoye in 1999 on the grounds of an abandoned resort complex that used to belong to a reinforced concrete factory. The new convent succeeded to the name and tradition of the Holy Trinity Monastery, abolished by Soviet authorities. A number of churches, living quarters for the nuns, and utility structures were built with donations within the space of a few years.

The convent’s main church is the Cathedral of St. Varus the Holy Martyr. Fragments of the holy relics of all the 83 elders of Pechora and of Seraphim of Sarov, lie entreasured here in honour of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir. The Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Seven Arrows is used for weddings. Also of note on the compound is the “Assuage My Sorrows” Chapel.

The convent is home to some rare icons from the 19th century and later periods, as well as the relics of St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker, the saints of the Kiev-Pechora Lavra, the Holy Virgin, and a fragment of the relics of St. Pantaleon the Healer.

Sergey Bobylev/ТАSS
The majestically ascetic and lucid St. Sarkis Church towers next to Bestuzhev Park in Adler. The Cathedral of the North Caucasus Eparchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, designed by Ovanes Zadikian in the neo-Armenian church style with triangular windows and a descending cascade of coniferous roofs, was founded in 1993. Certain architectural allusions to a Russian Orthodox white-stone church are discernible in the external decor of this classic house of worship. The first services were held at St. Sarkis Church in 1998. The bell-cote was built in 2004.

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The stone church in the village of Khosta, built in the 1910s, was the idea of Maria Shcheglovitova, the wife of the Minister of Justice of the Russian Empire, whose dacha was nearby. The church was built with private donations. Emperor Nicholas II, for one, contributed 4,000 gold rubles towards construction costs.

Russian and Byzantine influences are evident in the architecture of the temple, which is reminiscent of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre in appearance. One unique aspect about this single-dome church in Khosta with its adjoined bell-tower is the construction material it was built with: natural crushed sandstone.

The church was shut down and handed over to secular authorities after the 1917 Revolution. In 1981 the church was recognized as a masterpiece of church architecture, and the government took it under its protection. In 2001 it was reopened for worshippers.
Sergey Bobylev/ТАSS

The original Church of the Holy Spirit in the middle of Adler, nowadays better known as the Church of the Holy Trinity, was built in 1898. Twenty six years later, after the 1917 Revolution, it was closed down. In 1947 the building itself was destroyed. Under the orders of the local authority of Adler, a new place of worship was opened here in 1991, which was housed in the building of a former airline ticket office. Construction on the new church began two years later with the blessing of Isidor the Archbishop of Yekaterinodar and Kuban.

The reconstructed Church of the Holy Trinity, a turquoise blue single-story edifice with a belfry and an annex for the Mater Dolorosa Icon of Our Lady, reopened for parishioners in 1998.

Aleksandr Demyanchuk/ТАSS

Construction on the first and foremost Orthodox temple in the Chernomorsky Borough began in 1874, but would take 16 years due to financial constraints. Stones for the new church were taken from the walls of Alexandria Fort, which was the first edifice built in what was to become the town of Sochi. The ruins of the fort are only a few yards away from the church.

The architect, Aleksander Kaminsky, designed the snow-white church in a cruciform shape with an elongated front arm. The arms of the “cross” of the building have vaulted roofs, and the dome is in the middle. Sochi’s main Orthodox Church is 25 meters long and 17m wide, its belfry is 34m tall.

The church was converted to a granary in the 1930s, but reopened for services during the Great Patriotic War. Its nearly 1.5-century history and two renovations notwithstanding, the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, who is worshipped as Sochi’s guardian saint, today looks almost exactly the same as it looked when the very first service was officiated here.