Before the 2014 Winter Olympics realized Putin's dream of filling the resort town of Sochi with a bunch of flashy new developments, another Russian ruler had some pretty grand designs for the place. As Atlantic Cities reports, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin also envisioned Sochi as a high-end tourist trap, and even had his own villa built there in 1937. In part of what's now known as the Green Grove sanatorium, Stalin used to seek a bit of R&R away from the high-stress demands of disappearing supposed foes and strong-arming dissent, taking in Charlie Chaplin films, playing biliards with buddies, and soaking it up in a seawater-filled pool on par with Russia's most exorbitant.
Though Stalin's eye-catching green-painted manor fell into disrepair after his death in 1953, with only a few Soviet officials using it in the ensuing years, it later became a museum dedicated to his less terrorizing off-the-clock pursuits. Now, a wax statue of the dictator sits behind a desk in the wood-paneled expanse of his former cinema hall, with a cheery, avuncular expression on its face and a smoking pipe in hand. Until recently, tourists could actually book a night in Uncle Joe's old bedroom, which is currently being renovated under new management.
These days, Stalin's structural legacy in Sochi is confined to Green Grove and a few similar facilities he had built. By the time the olympic games come to a close, the city will be faced with a few quandaries when it comes to how best to use Putin's constructs. It would be much harder to turn a 12,000-seat skating palace into a leisure museum, but even that would be far from the craziest development Russia has to offer.
· Visiting Stalin's Sochi Retreat [Atlantic Cities]