A German cartoon from 1914 showing the lay of the political land as seen from the German perspective at the outbreak of World War One. As the text below the picture states, Germany and the Austro-Hungary Empire defend “blows from all sides”, particularly from the east in the form of a huge snarling Russian face. To the right of the image a banner declares that 10% of the proceeds of the map’s sale will go toward the Red Cross. The map is accompanied by a contemporary version of a French woodcut depicting a very different looking Europe of 1870.
The images are from the Berlin State Library and are featured as part of the wonderful new project from Europeana, “Europeana, 1914-18” which is marking 100 years since the outbreak of WW1 with a remarkable pan-European pooling of material, from both individuals and institutions, relating to the “Great War”.
The 2014 Winter Olympics Games will be held in Sochi in February 7-23, 2014. Do you know the story of Sochi?
Sochi is located between the Black Sea and the Caucasian Mountains. Thanks to the Caucasian Mountains which protect Sochi from the cold northern air, it enjoys the northernmost subtropical climate on Earth. Mild subtropical climate, the clean sea, the fresh sea air, the lush southern vegetation, the unique landscape, and healing mineral and water springs make Sochi one of the world’s best seaside and health resorts.
Thanks to its mild climate and rich flora, the Sochi region has been inhabited since the early ages (the Circassians call it “Sashe”). The history of the city itself dates back to the 5th century BC. The forefathers of the Circassians developed a civilization easily identified by their unique type of tombs, called “dolmen”. The Kapibge Dolmen in the valley of the Ashe River in Sochi is such a prehistoric architecture. It includes 3 dolmens, two of which are more or less ruined. One of them, however, has been preserved to this day almost in its original form.
Before the Winter Olympics, Sochi was famous as a health resort. Mineral springs helped the city to emerge as a spa and climatic resort since the days of antiquity. The best known are chloride-sodium waters of the Matsesta.
"Matsesta" in the Ubykh language means “fiery water” (Ubykh is an extinct Northwest Caucasian language once spoken by the Ubykh people who originally lived around the Sochi region before they were forced to leave their country in 1864.)
According to an ancient legend, when a daughter was born to Kerenduk, who lived high up in the mountains, the moon was reflected in the river, making the water seem as if it was on fire. Kerenduk named his daughter with the proud name of Matsesta – fiery water. The beautiful Matsesta brought a spring of healing water hidden deep within a cave up to the surface, making it accessible for the people, although she was not able to make it out of the cave alive. In honour of this brave deed, the spring, its water and the entire area was named after the beautiful and brave woman – Matsesta.
In addition to its healing waters, Sochi is also known for its amazing waterfalls. And undoubtedly, Psydakh is the most beautiful waterfall in Sochi. Psydakh means “beautiful water” in the Circassian language, and is located in the Lygotkhskoye Forest range of the Sochi National Park. It consists of three waterfalls, the lowest has a height of 2.5 meters, and the highest 30 meters.
In Sochi, there are many historical artifacts built by the Circassians and natural sites named in the Circassian language. However, curiously enough, you cannot see a single reference to the Circassians in any material about the Sochi Olympic Games.
It seems that the Circassians are carefully kept away from the illusionary world of Olympics. But the very site of the Sochi Olympics is a ruthless reminder for the fate of the Circassians.
As you know, the Olympics Games will be held in Krasnaya Polyana up in the mountains. Krasnaya Polyana means Red Glade in the Russian language. Although all the area is covered by blue sky with contrasting green forest and white snow, this beautiful glade is called the Red Glade since 1864. Do you know why?
Kapibge Dolmen testifies for Sochi’s root in the Circassian history and culture.
Matsesta (Fiery Water)
The Circassian tales speak for themselves.
Krasnaya Polyana - Red Glade
What is “red” here?