Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sochi's spas and Stalin's Villa

arriving in Sochi,  passport control 

For the next   17 days  the media will be bombarding us with  news and  information on  the   Winter Olympics   being held  in  Sochi, the  popular Russian resort on the Black Sea which for more than a century has been known as the Russian Riviera thanks to its  almost Mediterranean  climate, landscapes, beaches, parks and mineral springs.

Russian schoolchildren   on the sea promenade


teenagers practice  military  routines at war monument 

The Botanic gardens   stretch along the seaside promenade  with  mimosas, oleander, magnolia and palms line the streets. Expensive  new  high rise residential buildings   give  the seaside city  the air of  a Caucasian Monte Carlo.

Botanic Gardens, Sochi 

When I visited  Sochi a few years ago  the city was buzzing with activity  in view of the upcoming Olympics: new buildings , horrendous  traffic  and  a sense of expectancy. Already  then  Sochi annually  attracted nearly two million visitors who came to   enjoy the beaches and curative powers of the mineral springs, especially those of Matsesta,  or “fiery water”. 

hot springs near Sochi 
Matsesta  sanatorium 
 During the Soviet period there were  223 health resorts, sanatoria, sort of all inclusive resorts,   along the  140 kms of Sochi coast making it  the "longest " city after Los Angeles .   

Joseph Stalin , who suffered from arthritis,  found  relief  at these  hot baths and built his summer residence  at Zelenaya Roscha,  a highly guarded compound camoflagued within a  pine forest .  

Stalin's  green  dacha    

It was a no-flight zone overlooked by guard towers on the nearby hilltop  since  the psychopathic leader   lived in dread of  assassination. 
inside  Stalin's villa 
 Even the fountain in the central courtyard was turned off at night so any intruder  could be heard.  Stalin slept  only during the day on a  cot  in his office and  his  leather divan is provided with  bullet proof sides .

Fulvio  tries  out Stalin's  bullet proof  divan ,  billiards room in the background

Stalin's   wax figure    
The wax figure seated in the  study  reminds  us  that the  Georgian leader was only  5ft. 2 inches tall .  This was   another reason why   photos with Churchill   and Roosevelt  at the conference held in nearby Yalta  in 1945  show them all seated.

Sochi was one of the many ports  visited  over the years  as a cruise enrichment lecturer  aboard  luxury liners plying the Mediterranean, Black, Adriatic, Baltic and Atlantic.  For a  list  see my  website   and let me know if you have questions about  any of these  ports.  
Don't forget to leave a comment and share with your  friends. 


  1. Great article on your blog Mary Jane!! My google account will not let me ,leave comments on your blog,but loved reading about Sochi and history ,Thank you ! Jamie Stoffel

  2. Very interesting blog post, Mary Jane...I knew little about Sochi but am trying to discover more as the Olympics take place...thanks for sharing!
    Nancye Tuttle, Maine , USA