Sochi officially became a city just a century ago, although its exact origins are unknown. Archaeologists have found traces of the earliest human settlements in the area that date back to the Stone Age. The first recorded mentions of the region were in the 6th century B.C. by the ancient Greeks, who described the region’s people, Geniokhs, as “ferocious pirates.” A local legend claims that Prometheus, the hero of Greek myths, was chained to a rock near today’s Sochi.
In the early years of the first millennium, the territory was colonized by the Romans, but few records remain from that time. Then came the age of the Byzantine Empire and Christianity. The Byzantines built fortresses and churches, some of whose ruins still survive to this day. As a result, there is a considerable Greek minority that still lives in the area.
From the 7th to 11th centuries A.D., the area was influenced by the neighboring kingdoms of Abkhazia and Georgia. Genoa established several trading posts here in the Middle Ages, including Costa, which gave its name to today’s Khosta, a city district of Sochi.
The first time the name “Sochi” was mentioned was in the records of the Turkish traveler and statesman Evliya Chelebi, who visited the Black Sea shore in 1641, but the name refers to the mountains, not the settlement.
The Ottoman Empire took control of the area in the 15th century, spreading Islam along Russia’s southern border. The tension between the two countries led to several wars. As a result of the 1828-29 war, the Russian Empire gained control over the coveted Black Sea shore.