Stalin's Dacha

Top choice in Black Sea Coast

Stalin's dacha, Zelenaya Roscha, is a fascinating place, built specifically to accommodate a small, private and paranoid man. Tours are in Russian but some of the patriotic guides speak a little English. From Sochi take any Adler-bound bus and get off at the Zelenaya Roscha stop. Enter through the gates of the sanitorium and walk about 1km uphill to the dacha.

The tour includes Stalin’s private rooms (with some original furniture), the movie theatre where he checked every film before public release, and his billiards room. Stalin was a lousy player – he played only those he could beat or who were wily enough to lose. The Stalin portraits on the walls were added after his death. The other paintings are all reproductions, as Stalin believed that artwork belonged to the people and therefore should hang in a museum.

The depth of the water in the swimming pool (just 1.5m), the height of the stair treads, and most of the furniture were specially built to accommodate Stalin's small stature (165cm). Security was extremely tight: a guard every 15m around the dacha, a secret lift and tunnel down to the sea, and buildings painted green to camouflage them within the forest.

Don't miss the photo op of the day: a waxwork figure of Stalin smoking his favourite pipe. Visitors have been known to swear they can smell pipe tobacco while in its presence.