In 2007, when Sochi won the bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen were baffled. It rarely snows in Sochi, and the subtropical city -- or what they call "the Florida of Russia, but cheaper" -- sits on the coast of the Black Sea, near a restive border in a conflict-ridden region. Hardly an ideal location.
Their incredulity inspired a slow trek of adventure and investigation to document the effect of the games, which open Feb. 7 and are expected to cost $50 billion, making the Sochi games the most expensive Olympics on record. Year after year, as they traveled the region, the pair returned to Sochi, watching as the area was scraped clean and rebuilt, making way for new roads, railways, resorts, stadiums, and villages, watching as the old clashed with the new. This five-year journey resulted in their epic body of work, The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus, from which these photographs (and their accompanying stories) are taken.
Above, a photo of Olga, 29, taken in Sochi in 2012. Olga manages a strip club in the Zhemchuzhina Hotel (meaning "pearl") in the center of Sochi.