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Even before Winter Olympics, Sochi is a must-see part of Russia tours

To the outside observer, Sochi may not be one of the most well-known names on a tour of Russia, but that's likely to change in the coming months. The southwestern city is gearing up to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will certainly shed some light on its many appealing features. There are undoubtedly some misconceptions surrounding Sochi, but a closer look will provide a clearer view into why it was chosen as the host of the Olympic Games.

An attractive destination year-round
Because it will be home to the Winter Olympics, it might be easy to assume Sochi is like many of the Russian cities to the north - cold and windy. On the contrary, its place on the Russian Riviera  makes it the largest resort city in the country. Not only that, but its summer season lasts about six months, and even once winter rolls around its temperature stays mild. There are also a number of pristine beaches, especially in the district of Dagomys, that give you the chance to take in the beautiful weather.

Opportunities for winter sports
Given its warm weather, it may seem unusual that the Winter Olympics would be held in Sochi, but thanks to its location under the Caucasus Mountains, there are plenty of spots in the higher elevations where travelers can indulge their colder active pursuits. The neighborhood of Krasnaya Polyana is especially geared toward adventure travel and is home to the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, which was constructed specifically for the 2014 games.

Rich history
Like much of Russia, Sochi has a compelling history, and there are a number of interesting sites that speak to its intriguing past. One of its most recognizable buildings is the imposing Winter Theater. Built in the 1930s, this stunning piece of architecture draws heavy inspiration from classic design elements. Of course, the theater is not the only architectural and historic highlight in Sochi. You should also consider paying a visit to Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, the oldest Orthodox church in the city. The stunning white building dates back more than 120 years. Rounding out the landmarks in Sochi is its famed arboretum, which is home to many stunning specimens of subtropic flora and fauna. 

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