The City of Magic Parks

The itinerary which begins at Sochi Arboretum and goes through the city centre to Riviera Park makes for a very pleasant walk.

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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.
Aleksandr Demianchuk/TASS
Next to the Arboretum, in the Institute of Flower Cultivation, you will find what is probably Russia’s most famous botanical miracle – the Friendship Tree. Since 1934, hundreds of sprigs have been grafted onto this wild lemon tree and as a result, tangerines, oranges, mandarins, kumquats and grapefruit grow on its branches as well as lemons.
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The Museum of History of the Resort City of Sochi houses the main treasures of this area. It was founded with a collection established at the beginning of the twentieth century by the Caucasus Mountain Club: minerals found in the mountains, herbariums of local plants, artefacts from the homes of the native coastal peoples. The collection has expanded and now provides an idea of the entire history of the Russian South.

In the museum’s courtyard is an historical dolmen tomb from Lazarevskoye Village. As you move through the halls, the pages of Sochi’s history unfold one by one. One hall features Bronze Age tools, arrows and clay bowls. Another contains a ship filled with Turkish yatagan knives and Cossack sabres. Elsewhere, the museum includes a diorama featuring bears, mountain goats and black cockerels; miniature replicas of ancient summer houses; a collection of weaponry used by the soldiers of the White Guards and the Red Army; and phonographs and tableware from the first Soviet resorts. The Soyuz-9 space module, in which Andriyan Nikolayev and Vitaly Sevastyanov returned from space and underwent rehabilitation in Sochi in 1970, is also here. Their 17-day journey was the longest space trip ever made at that time.
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From the Historical Museum, make your way down to the quay and then proceed to Riviera Park. The park was first opened in the late nineteenth century and until the revolution, it really was a riviera: people came here to walk along shady alleys, breath in the fresh air, admire the sea view and drink champagne in the pavilions. In May 1961, the Alley of Cosmonauts was founded in the park: the first magnolia here was planted by the first Soviet cosmonaut, Yury Gagarin. Riviera Park is now a typical leisure park, with attractions catering to every taste: tennis courts and sports fields, and the Green Theatre - the main stage for summer performances by local and visiting artists, from Larisa Dolina and Zemfira to Nazareth and Smokie.

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The biggest oceanarium on the Black Sea coast, the Sochi Discovery World Aquarium opened in 2009. It boasts 30 aquariums that together hold five million litres of water, a 40-metre see-through underwater tunnel and tropical rainforest with a waterfall. Among the oceanarium’s many striking inhabitants are sharks, moray eels, jellyfish, corals, rays and turtles. Visitors love to study them for hours before catching one of the shows with all but real mermaids, or watching the fish being fed. Some of the fish can be fed by the visitors themselves, for instance, the greedy Koi Carp. Getting into fights over every little piece of food, these always put on a good show for children and adults alike with their antics. Those who desire can even go diving in the largest aquarium after taking a special lesson and receiving a diving certificate.

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At the Dolphinarium, bottle-nosed dolphins, fur seals and a sea lion perform twice a day. For an extra charge, visitors can have their photo taken with the dolphins or swim in the pond with them, holding on to their dorsal fins.
Aleksandr Demyanchuk/ТАSS
On display at Sochi’s Art Museum is a collection of 19th- and 20th-century Russian paintings and graphic art: landscapes and seascapes by Ivan Shishkin and Ivan Aivazovsky, still-lifes by Pyotr Konchalovsky and Ilya Mashkov, drawings by Valentin Serov, Boris Kustodiev and Aleksander Deineka. But the pride of place at the museum belongs to the Mzymta Treasure – a large cache of iron, bronze, silver and gold artefacts of Sarmat and ancient Greek origin, unearthed by the River Mzymta in 1997.
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Tucked away amid an orchard alongside the private homes on Ulitsa Pavla Korchagina stands the house where the Soviet writer Nikolai Ostrovsky used to live. It is now a literary memorial complex. Ostrovsky’s novel How the Steel was Tempered is a Soviet Realism classic. Ostrovsky, who had fought in the Civil War of 1918-1922, was immensely popular in the Soviet Union.

The Soviet government had this single-story house built for Nikolai Ostrovsky in 1935. The writer, bedridden and terminally ill at the age of 24, had only about six months to live in his new home. The museum was founded in 1937, after his death. The museum staff have preserved intact both the furnishings and the feel of that epoch in Ostrovsky’s memorial home. A new two-story building, housing the literary part of the museum, was erected next to the memorial home in 1956.

The Ostrovsky Museum is a venue for all kinds of exhibitions nowadays: literary, art, and folk arts and crafts. The museum offers one of the best programmes in town for the Museum Night international festival.