Historic landmarks

Sergei Bobylev /TASS

A wonderful example of the Stalin Empire architecture in Sochi is a spa resort named after Sergo Ordzhonikidze, head of the heavy industry authority in the early Soviet government. The building’s authors were a team of young architects led by prominent architect Ivan Kuznetsov. The majestic colonnades, arched facades, spacious halls, painted ceilings and a magnificent arboretum make this health resort a palace. In the late 1930s, the resort welcomed first guests and immediately became popular throughout the Soviet Union. People all over the country knew the palace from scenes of the Hottabych Old Man film, where the wizard on a magic carpet lands into the fountain by the palace.

Many people in the USSR dreamed of an opportunity to visit the majestic arches and colonnades. The central fountain Dancing Maenads and the resort’s sculptures are among Sochi’s main scenic symbols. Newly married couples nowadays come here for romantic pictures and promenade.

Artur Lebedev/TASS

Remains of a Byzantine temple of the X-XII centuries are on a mountain near the Loo settlement. The temple was re-constructed and ruined several times, and in the XV-XVI centuries it was developed into a fortress. We can see only one wall, several burials and remains of the stones, which show clearly the temple’s size and the place, where the altar used to be.

The temple, among other similar historic buildings, proves the version Christianity used to be in the North Caucasus before Islam came there at the time of Tamerlane’s invasion in the late XIV century and the following mass spread of Islam in the region.

In old times, the locals used to come to the temple ruins late in the afternoon to lit candles and write notes with wishes. They left the notes in the wall. Nowadays, the temple ruins are a sightseeing attraction in the Sochi National Park.

Alexander Lebedev/TASS

In the very heart of Sochi you can see from where the key Russian resort began. The small stonework remains between the sea port and the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel are ruins of the Alexandria Fort (also called Navaginsky or Dahovsky). The fort’s first stone was laid in 1838 at the sea shore, at the mouth of the Sochi River. Later on, it served the military during the Caucasus War, and later on builders made use of it.

In the late XIX century, the fort’s walls were used for construction of the city’s main cathedral and lighthouse. Nowadays, by the fort’s wall tourists can see a memorial sign, which tells history of this fortress.

Sergei Bobylev/TASS

The Observation Tower on the Akhun Mountain was built in 1936 by architect Sergei Vorobyev. It can be seen from any location in Sochi. The tower, made of white limestone, resembles lookout towers, which were built in the North Caucasus in the Middle Ages.

The view from the observation deck, which is almost 700m above the sea level, is the best in the city, making the tower the biggest attraction both for tourists and for the locals. Guides tell visitors that the Turkish shore can be seen from the tower in clear weather.

The locals love so much this main attraction that they even introduced a marriage tradition: a newly registered husband is to carry his beloved in the arms to the tower top, which can be compared walking to the roof of a 10-storey building.

By the tower foot, tourists are invited to taste local tea, flavorful honey, jam from berries and nuts, to buy souvenirs and to ride a horse or donkey.

Aleksandr Demianchuk/TASS
The park sloping down the mountain to the sea was laid out in the late nineteenth century by a rich businessman, publisher, ballet historian and writer, Sergey Khudekov. Over the last hundred years or so, the park has developed into one of the lushest arboretums in the world – the luxurious plants evoke the sensation of a magic forest. To make sure you see everything, it is a good idea to buy a map when you purchase your ticket. In the Lower Park, there is a rose garden with 140 varieties of rose, a bamboo grove, a pond with swans and pelicans, and nutrias and squirrels running along the alleys.

Behind Kurortny Prospect is the entrance to the Upper Park, which is much larger. Among the palms, cherry blossoms, cypresses and sequoias, fountains, artificial caverns, arbours and greenhouses have been constructed. Throughout the park you will find panels displaying QR codes. Using a special app on your smartphone, these codes will help you to discover lots of interesting facts about nearly every tree and flower in the Arboretum.

A rope-way runs between the Lower Park and the Upper Park, and in the vicinity of the upper station there is a viewing platform overlooking the sea.

Exhibition hall of the Greenhouse: Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Flower pavilion: Mon-Sun 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sergey Bobylev / TASS

Sochi's Winter Theatre (Zimny Teatr) wa built in 1937, and quickly became one of its key landmarks. The building itself is a sight to behold. It has become one of Russia's architectural monuments. Designed by Konstantin Chernopyatov, the icredibly 'light' structure rests upon 88 columns, running around the building's perimeter. The front of the theatre is adorned with three goddesses, as if they have graced it personally by descending to the mortal realm from Olympus: Melpomene, Terpsichore and Talia. Famous Russian sculptor Vera Mukhina authored these statues.