THE SCULPTURE OF MATSESTA

The sculpture of “Matsesta” is a symbol of the world-famous Matsesta health resort and one of Sochi’s most important and recognisable calling cards. The sculpture is executed in an original allegorical manner and makes successful use of the natural textures of the local rock – a dense, light-coloured sandstone. Visitors are left with the impression that the girl depicted in the statue was created by nature itself. Using simple, rough and sometimes angular forms, the girl appears gentle, good-natured and calming, while mesmorising observers with her mysterious beauty. At the same time, her powerful neck and arms leave no doubt as to her physical strength.

Immediately in front of the girl, comprising a single entity with her, there is a fountain with a number of small basins forming a cascade. Stone steps lead to a small platform built several meters above the basins. From here visitors can get a closer look at the girl’s image, take photographs in front of her and enjoy the panorama of the sea and the Matsestinsky viaduct. The platform is fenced off with handrails of original construction using the same sandstone as the statue in combination with metal railings. On one of the large flat stones facing the road there is the stylised inscription “Ma–tse–sta” engraved into the rock, pointing the way to the health resort and to the microdistrict of the same name. “Matsesta” in the Ubykh language means “fire water” – water that gives a “burning” feeling because of its high hydrogen sulfide content.

According to one ancient legend, when a daughter was born to the mountain-dweller Kerenduk, the moon was reflected in the river, which made the water appear to be on fire, so Kerenduk gave his daughter the proud name of Matsesta or “Fire Water”. The father, however, was disconsolate for he desired a son. Knowing this, Matsesta developed strength and courage within herself, loved her parents and became a reliable source of support for them in every possible way. When her parents, having grown old, fell gravely ill, Matsesta learned about a spring with healing powers located in a cave, but no one was able to reach it for it was securely guarded by the Spirit of the Mountain. The beautiful Matsesta vowed to get this water at any cost. She entered the cave, killed the Spirit of the Mountain, and brought the spring to the surface, revealing it to the people – but she herself was unable to escape the cave alive. In honour of her exploit, the spring, its water and the area around it, which later became the location of the health resort, were named after the beautiful and brave Matsesta.


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