The settlement was founded and named by medieval Greek merchants. It was rediscovered in the late 19th century by Alexander Kuznetsov, a Russian "tea king" who had his palace built on the sea shore. It was Kuznetsov who commissioned the town's main landmark, the Resurrection Church. This ornate five-domed architectural extravaganza is sited on a 400-metre cliff overlooking Foros.
The Soviet leaders had several state dachas built near Foros. One of these came to international attention during the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt, when the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was held under house arrest at his summer dacha during a coup against his rule.