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Ancient names in Olympic Sochi

Ancient names in Olympic Sochi

Legends about the origin of place names in the Sochi area are alive today. There are 102 ethnicities living there, each with its own traditions, history and culture.

References to the area composing today's Sochi can be traced back to the writings of ancient historians. However, the heyday of the local culture dates back to the Middle Ages (7-10 centuries AD) when three Adyghe tribes — Abaza, Ubykhs and Shapsugs — settled on the Caucasus' Black Sea coast. Dozens of fortresses, temples and forts were built in this period in the area, some of which remain well preserved to this day. Their ruins can be seen in Khosta, Krasnaya Polyana and Aibga.

There are different versions regarding the origin of the name "Sochi." According to one such version, Sochi is the misspelled name of an Ubykh tribe — Soche, Soatshe, Sshychye or Shacha — that used to dwell in the Caucasus.
According to another version, "Sochi" is a misspelled version of the Abkhaz-Adyghe place name "Shasha," or "Sasha," which is derived from an ancient Caucasian male name. The name "Adler," a district in Sochi that houses the Olympic Park, is derived from the name of an Ubykh tribe Ardon and the Turkish term "lar," meaning, "pier." The original "Ard-Lar" became "Adler" over time.

Sochi's chief Olympic stadium Fischt, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies, was named after the Fischt mountain range in the western Caucasus. "Fischt" is an Adyghe word meaning, "white head." The mountain received the name because its rocky summit is covered with a cap of snow-white glaciers.

The name of the ski resort and extreme park "Rosa Khutor," which will host the alpine skiing, snowboarding and freestyle skiing competitions during the Olympic Games, is derived from the name of an Estonian, Adula Rooza, who lived there for many years. After the abolition of serfdom in the 19th century, 73 Estonian families relocated to the Caucasus and named their settlement Esto-sadok. However, one of the first settlers, Rooza, decided not to live in the village and went on to work as a forester. He settled on a farm 8 km away from Esto-sadok, where he spent his entire life. People referred to his house as "Rooza Khutor," or "Rooza's Farm." After he died, the farm was abandoned, but the name remained.
There is no reliable information about the origin of the name, "Krasnaya Polyana," where the Olympic mountain cluster is located. The word "krasnaya," or "red," can indicate the color or be a synonym of the word "beautiful."

Legend has it that Greek settlers who found refuge in Russia near Stavropol decided to move closer to the Black Sea. They set out in search of a new area and found a meadow overgrown with red ferns. Hence, the name "Krasnaya Polyana" (Red Meadow).

The "Laura" ski and biathlon complex in the mountain cluster bears a beautiful female name. However, it is not named after a woman, but rather a nearby mountain river. The word also has Adyghe roots and comes from the name of Larga princes from an Abaza tribe that lived in the area in the Middle Ages.

Telling names of Olympic facilities have become a tradition. In Sochi, these names relate the legends and stories of the different peoples of multi-ethnic Russia.

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