Officially founded in 1898 on the territory won by Russia in the Caucasian War, Sochi from the very beginning served as a resort area. The discovery of the salubrious sulphuretted hydrogen springs throughout the territory of the town contributed greatly to its rapid development as the most popular health resort in Russia. By the beginning of the 20th century several hotel complexes as well as numerous private summerhouses of Russian nobility had been constructed in the town. Several of them have been preserved and considered to be the excellent examples of Russia's Art Nouveau architecture. In the Soviet times and at present Sochi stays one of the most popular summer resorts in Russia. The major attraction of Sochi is its natural beauty. Pristine rivers and streams down the picturesque Caucasus mountains, mixed primeval forests engirdle foothills, boundless golden beaches stretch as far as the eye can see.