There are places where we go not for fun and amusement. Still, they are interesting, because there we can contemplate and get in touch with history. Stalin’s dacha or summer residence in Sochi is one of such places. Josef Stalin is a contradictory figure in Russian history. On the one hand, the great progress of the country, on the other hand, Stalin’s excesses. Disputes over this historical period continue. The visit to Stalin’s Dacha won’t give answers to all the questions but will make us feel the atmosphere of that time and learn something about Stalin’s personality.
There are no Stalin’s museums in Russia. In the 1950s, all Stalin monuments were destroyed. One of the few that survived is his monument on his grave at the Red Square necropolis. Another one you can find in an open-air museum on Crimea embankment in Moscow “Museon”, which is also called “The park of fallen idols”. Travelling to Ossetia, you can pass by the Stalin’s image on a rock by the side of the road. Stalin’s dacha in Kuntsevo (near Moscow), where he lived and worked for many years and died in 1953, now is an inactive and secured place.
Stalin liked his dacha in Sochi and spent here one-two month every year and received many high-ranking guests. The house was built on the height of 160 meters above the sea level, where the warm sea air mixes with the cool air of the mountains creating the curing effect. From the balcony, Mount Akhun with its view tower is clearly seen. However, nobody can see Stalin’s dacha from Mount Akhun. You won’t see the house until you are just in front of it. Stalin chose this place himself because of its security.
Stalin’s summer residence is far from that what we usually imagine as a residence of the head of a country. The interior reflects the character of the owner who was unpretending and lived an exceedingly modest life. Here, we won’t find any luxury, we would rather call it ‘minimalism’. Stalin used to work the whole nights on his study and then slept here on his bed reminding an army cot.
A few paintings on the walls are just replicas, and he always said that the originals should be placed in the museums and be accessible for all. The only luxurious thing here is a silver writing set, a gift from the Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-tung.
The house was painted in green for the camouflage reasons. Many details of the interior in dacha also tell about his feeling of insecurity. Stalin worried for his safety a lot. Thus, there were no carpets, because he wanted to hear the footsteps of those who were coming close to him. He changed the rooms three-to-four times so that nobody would know where he was. Door windows were made of mountain crystal protecting him from prying eyes. In a private screening room, you can see a bullet-proof sofa.
Still, Stalin was a human being. Wandering around the house, we can imagine how Stalin played chess or billiard and watched Charlie Chaplin, his favorite films. In a billiard room, we hold his cue that is heavier than normal so that Stalin could win. There is a small collection of photos, where Stalin is smiling and hugging his children.
It is an unusual place. There are many mysteries connected to Stalin. People have different attitudes towards him. No one of Russian leaders has ever visited Stalin’s Dacha in Sochi, but we can come to this place to get in touch with history. Leaving the dacha and saying goodbye to the wax statue of Stalin at the desk, we again see the blue sky and the sun lit the space, and we have a sigh of relief that that period of history is over.
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