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Best Landmarks in Sochi

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The top of Akhun Mountain boasts a splendid view of the city, the sea, and Sochi National Park. People say that on a clear day you might even see Turkey. The slopes of the mountains contain 30 caves as well as the ancient Khosta Yew and Boxwood Grove. Akhun's watchtower is an architectural landmark, built in 1936 in the medieval style.

Sochi National Park is 190,000 hectares (469,500 acres) of natural and cultural wonders. There are mountains, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, and caves. Among the park's main attractions are Akhun Mountain, the Zmeyka Cascade, the Vorontsovskiye Caves, and the Khosta Yew and Boxwood Grove. Cultural attractions include the ruins of a Byzantine temple, a Bronze Age dolmen, and the watchtower on top of the Akhun. The national park is home to various kinds of rare flora and fauna, including several leopards that live in open-air cages.

The three Agura River waterfalls count among the top natural attractions in Sochi. They are located in the Khosta District, about two and a half miles (four kilometers) from the seashore. You can get there by bus or marshrutka (share taxi). You will have to catch your ride in the center of the city, get off at the Sputnik stop, and then cross the Agura River and follow the signs for a little bit more than half a mile. The entrance to the Agura Gorge is situated near Kavkazsky Aul, a local restaurant. The first and lowest waterfall is considered the most splendid, so there are often a lot of tourists there. Stairs lead to the next two waterfalls. After you see them, you can either visit the Orliniye Skaly (Eagle Rocks) or take a longer route to the majestic Akhun Mountain. Orliniye Skaly are said to be the rocks to which Prometheus was chained, and fittingly, there is a statue of him on top. Prometheus was watched by a god called Akhyn, who lived on the Akhun mountain. When Akhyn saw a local girl named Agura giving Prometheus water, he turned her into a river. On top of the Orliniye Skaly you can not only enjoy the view and take pictures with Prometheus, but also buy some snacks and drinks at the nearby kiosk. From here, you can descend to the Matsesta microdistrict, famous for its balneotherapy resort.

This cave, named after the nearby village Akhshtyr, is one of Sochi's main prehistoric archaeological sites. Neanderthals took their residence there about 70,000 years ago. By the entrance, there is a viewing platform from which you can see the Akshtyrsky Canyon and its splendid white rocks.

Founded in 1898, the Riviera Park counts among Sochi's most beloved tourist attractions. Here, you can feast your eyes on rare and exotic plants, see a rock or pop gig at the Zeleny Theater, or relax at one of the park's many bars and cafes. For children, there is a variety of amusement rides. Located close to the sea, Riviera Park truly has something for everyone.

Built in 1955, Morvokzal (the Seaport Building) counts among Sochi's most famous architectural landmarks. It has long been one of the summer capital's most recognizable symbols. The Morvokzal is also a functioning sea terminal, from which you can take a short sea cruise or a trip to Gagra in Abkhazia, Batumi in Georgia, or Trabzon in Turkey.

This natural attraction is located in Sochi National Park, by the mountain also called Zmeyka (meaning Little Snake). There are five waterfalls under which you can bathe. By the highest waterfall is a spring with icy, crystal-clear water. You can get to the lowest waterfall by following the signs from the Izmaylovka village.

On an Akhun Mountain slope there is a truly ancient grove, with yew and boxwood trees hundreds of years old. In 1952 the grove was featured as an in the famous Soviet fairy tale movie Sadko. There are two routes through the grove: the small ring, which allows you to see the main attractions in 30 minutes, and the large ring, for those who want a longer hike. To get to the grove, you will need to walk up Samshitovaya Street from the Khosta-Most bus stop. From the grove you can get to the top of Akhun Mountain, the Orliniye Skaly (Eagle Rocks), and the Agura Gorge.

If you want to enjoy a gorgeous view of the Caucasus foothills, head to the Navalishino Canyon and White Rocks (yes, the rocks are indeed white). Seeing the waterfalls running down the rocks is the highlight of the descent. Once you're in the canyon, you can bathe in the Khosta river, eat shashlyk (skewered meat), and drink tea made with locally grown herbs. The attraction is located approximately half a mile (.8 kilometers) from the Lesnaya bus stop in the village of Krasnaya Volya.

The Vorontsovsky karst complex is a cave system in Sochi National Park. The main cave, named Vorontsovskaya, is the sixth longest cave in the country. Attractions here include various prehistoric artifacts and the "Estrade" hall, which has beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.

The Chudo Krasotka (Miraculous Beauty) Gorge is located near the Lazarevskoye microdistrict, between the villages of Volkonka and Soloniki. There you can see two small but beautiful waterfalls as well as rare, century-old boxwood trees. The Chudo Krasotka tourist complex includes gift shops and a café.

This monument pays tribute to the heroic medics who treated the Soviet soldiers wounded in the Second World War, when Sochi was a "hospital city." It is an elegant arch, under which are the statues of a nurse with a patient and a surgeon. The monument is located by the Southern entrance to the Riviera Park, at the end of a beautiful alley with flowers and fountains.

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