It’s almost time to pack for your trip to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. But how much do you really know about the city that claims to be the longest in Europe – spreading for 90 miles between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains.
Sochi is located in Krasnodar Krai, one of 89 “federal subjects”, which are similar to U.S. states. The third most-populous subject in Russia with just over 5 million residents, its capital and largest city is Krasnodar, and Sochi is one of only two Black Sea ports remaining in Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
As a result of its long and varied history, the area around Sochi is spotted with ancient ruins, medieval churches, and neoclassical Soviet architecture. Settlement of the area dates back to Roman times, but due to its isolation from the population centers of Europe and the Middle East, it was never firmly under anyone’s control other than local tribal leaders. It was part of the Georgian Kingdom until the mid-1800s, but as far back as the 11th Century Sochi was invaded, sacked, and nominally controlled by nomadic rulers such as the Khazars and the Mongol Empire. It wasn’t until the end of the Ottoman Empire that Sochi became part of Russia. Continue reading