• Michael Laxer

Soviet Sochi 1962-1978: Built by and for the people



Today we are going to take a look at the Soviet Black Sea resort city of Sochi with photos and information from 1962, 1972 and 1978. With over 50 photos you get a real feel for what was called the Soviet Riviera and an understanding of why it was such an immensely popular destination.


Sochi was home to many resorts, hotels, spas and health sanitoriums many of which were owned or run by trade unions and vacations to which were heavily subsidized by the unions and the state. In some cases the trips were free or very close to free.


Early in the 20th century "sulphur springs were discovered in Matsesta, near Sochi. In a special decree signed by Lenin and issued during the first years of the Soviet Government, this whole section was set aside as a health resort area for working people.


More than half a million vacationers come here every year for rest and treatment -- miners from the Donbas, steelmakers from the Urals, scientists, textile workers, railroad men, collective farmers...


On a recent visit to the resort, Jean Can, a French journalist, commented, “The Soviet Union now has its own Riviera, just as beautiful as the French Riviera, but very different. Everything here was built by and for the people."


1962 USSR Magazine:

This hotel in this famed Black Sea vacation town has its own landscaped park.


THERE are few spots in the world lovelier than Sochi. Its warm sea, scenic beauty and unrivaled climate have made this part of the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus one of the largest and most popular resort centers in the Soviet Union.


Approached from the sea, Sochi—an amphitheater of coastal mountains with snow- covered summits and slopes carpeted with emerald green vegetation is a sight never to be forgotten. The town and sanatoriums, many of them former palaces, are set in this natural grandeur.


Half a century ago warm sulphur springs were discovered in Matsesta, near Sochi. In a special decree signed by Lenin and issued during the first years of the Soviet Government, this whole section was set aside as a health resort area for working people.


More than half a million vacationers come here every year for rest and treatment -- miners from the Donbas, steelmakers from the Urals, scientists, textile workers, railroad men, collective farmers.


The Sochi-Matsesta area keeps expanding. More than a hundred million rubles are allocated by the government annually to build new sanatoriums.


Sochi has its own theater and several concert halls. Its bathing beaches stretch for dozens

of miles.


On a recent visit to the resort, Jean Can, a French journalist, commented, “The Soviet Union now has its own Riviera, just as beautiful as the French Riviera, but very different. Everything here was built by and for the people. Fifty years ago Russians dreamed of going to the French Riviera; today French workers dream of going to the Caucasian Riviera.”


Miles of sun - flooded white sand beaches lined with resort hotels and sanatoriums.


Sochi lies in an amphitheater of emerald hued mountains with snow- topped summits.


Stairway to the sea. The luxuriant semitropical vegetation is typical.


Ships of all countries bring vacationers to Sochi. The Rossiya, a Soviet liner.


Mountains and sea combine to make this the country's most popular resort area. Half a million people come here every year for treatment, rest or just fun.



Soviet Sochi 1972 - 30 Vintage Views


The 1972 folder featured here has 30 views of buildings and attractions around the Soviet resort town.


In 1972 the greater city had a population of around 250,000 though this would rise considerably during the summer when it was seen as a major tourist destination -- especially within the Russian SFSR -- due to its various beaches on the Black Sea and its attractions.


There are many interesting shots here including of the funicular railroad at the Voroshilov Sanatorium, the atmospheric night photos of the Lazurnyi Restaurant and the Primorskaya Hotel, the lovely Black Sea sunset and others. As one would expect there are a number of hotel and beach cards.


The postcards were meant for a domestic audience as they were only in Russian. I have translated the backs and provided the descriptions.



The Sochi Circus. All major Soviet cities had them.


The Lazurnyi Restaurant


The International Tourist Camp Sputnik


The Primorskaya Hotel


The Stadium


Railway Station


The Voroshilov Sanatorium (Named for the Soviet General and one time People's Commissar for Defense). Note the funicular railway which allowed direct access to the sea for visitors.


Hotel Leningrad


On the way to Matsesta


Caucuses Hotel


The Seagull Hotel


Paddle Boats on the Black Sea


View of the resort of Hosta


Sunset


The Metallurgy Sanatorium


Entrance to the Arboretum


Supermarket


Boat Trip on the Black Sea


Main Post Office


Bus Station


Resort Prospect


Dendrarium Park

This is "the largest subtropical park in Russia founded in 1892, with the most comprehensive collection of subtropical flora in Russia, including 76 species of pine, 80 species of oak, and 24 species of palm."



The Monument to N. Ostrovsky

(Famous Soviet author whose best know work was "How the Steel Was Tempered")


Theatre Building


Sputnik Cinema


Paris Commune Sanatorium


Youth Hotel


The Svetlana Boarding House


Beach


Matsesta


The folder's cover which is a photo of the Sochi Seaport


Sochi 1978


Published in 1978 and aimed at the tourist market internal to the USSR (you can tell this as the cards have no text other than in Russian) this is another set of photos of the Soviet resort city.


The folder has some truly terrific landscape style postcards showing Sochi's parks, beaches, hotels and other attractions. I am especially fond of the futuristic looking streetlamps, the picture of the Sochi train station at night and the portrait style photo of the stone sculpture, though all-around this is an unusually cool set of vintage cards.






















(Some elements of this post originally appeared in posts on The Left Chapter blog in 2017 & 2018)

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