So just where is the Sochi Games’ Opening Ceremony being staged?

Let’s start with Russia: The world’s biggest country by land mass, spanning nine time zones. And expect Russia’s unparalleled global footprint to be celebrated more than once during the Opening Ceremony.

The city of Sochi is situated in the country’s most southern and western corner, perched on the Black Sea, where the subtropical climate means palm trees are plentiful and temperatures rarely dip below 50 degrees. But less than an hour away, where the skiing and sliding events will be held, loom snow-capped peaks that belong to the Caucasus Mountains.

Workers tie an Olympic banner to a flagpole inside Olympic Park in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. With opening ceremonies just a few days away, workers are working down to the wire to have facilities and venues ready for fans and competitors.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

The summer resort of choice for Joseph Stalin and now President Vladimir Putin, Sochi is being radically transformed by the 2014 Winter Games—to the tune of a record $51 billion—into what Putin hopes will become an international, year-round resort for lovers of the mountains and seaside.

The 40,000-seat Fisht Stadium, named for the highest peak in the Main Caucasian Ridge (roughly 9,800 feet elevation), was built to host the 2014 Olympics Opening and Closing ceremonies. No Olympic competitions will be staged here; instead, the venue will be re-purposed for soccer matches in the future.

Fisht Stadium’s two-part roof was designed to evoke the snowy peaks of the mountains beyond. Embedded in the concrete foundation below is a time capsule that includes the message: “Believe in your strengths, and together we will win.”