SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Before it was an Olympic city, Sochi was a Black Sea resort town favored by Russians trying to escape the cold up north.
And its most famous visitor was Joseph Stalin, the dictatorial leader of the Soviet Union from the 1920s until his death in '53 who built a dacha — or villa — on the hills overlooking the sea just outside of central Sochi.
The trip from the Olympic park to the dacha known as Green Grove, between the city of Sochi and the cluster of stadiums that hosted many Olympic events, requires a bus or train and then a long walk up a winding road.
But when you arrive, there can be no doubt.
The villa is painted in a bright shade reminiscent of the artificial turf on a football field. It was built in 1937 to Stalin's specifications, down to the stair treads that are closer together to be more comfortable for the diminutive Soviet strongman.
The tour — conducted in Russian and translated by AP freelancer Marie Millikan — takes about a half hour and wanders around the grounds and through about a half-dozen rooms.