Odessa is a city of great importance to the region and over the centuries has belong to countries and cultures other than Ukraine and Russia. It is known in various langauges…Romanian: Odesa; Greek: Οδησσός; Yiddish: אדעס and is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast (province) located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000.
Odessa was founded by Ottoman vassal, Khadjibey, the Khan of Crimea (Hacibey in modern Turkish spelling) (also known in English as Kocibey) in 1240 and named after him. It passed into the domain of the Ottoman sultân in 1529 and remained in Ottoman hands until the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in the Russo – Turkish War of 1798. The Russians renamed the city Odessa in 1794. From 1819–1858 Odessa was a free port. During the Soviet period it was the most important port of trade in the Soviet Union and a Soviet naval base. On January 1, 2000 the Quarantine Pier of Odessa trade sea port was declared a free port and free economic zone for a term of 25 years.
There are 192 of them, and built in 1837, Potemkin Steps are the best place to view the busy harbors and the bay. The famous monument to Duke de Richelieu overlooks steps of 142m length. Looking down from the top, the steps themselves become invisible, only the landings can be seen. On either side of the stairs there is a stone parapet and the two appear to run parallel.
This, however, is an optical illusion, because in reality the width of the stairs of the bottom flight is double that of the top flight. At the bottom of the steps is the city’s brand new passenger ship terminal and convention center.
In the 19th century Odessa was the fourth largest city of Imperial Russia, after Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Warsaw. Its historical architecture has a style more Mediterranean than Russian, having been heavily influenced by French and Italian styles.
Odessa is a warm water port, but militarily it is of limited value. Turkey’s control of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus has enabled NATO to control water traffic between Odessa and the Mediterranean Sea. The city of Odessa hosts two important ports: Odessa itself and Yuzhny (also an internationally important oil terminal), situated in the city’s suburbs. Another important port, Illichivs’k (or Ilyichyovsk), is located in the same oblast, to the south-west of Odessa.
The city became the home of a large Jewish community during the 19th century, and by 1897 Jews were estimated to comprise some 37% of the population. They were, however, repeatedly subjected to severe persecution. Pogroms were carried out in 1821, 1859, 1871, 1881, and 1905. Many Odessan Jews fled abroad, particularly to Palestine after 1882, and the city became an important base of support for Zionism.
Located 290 miles south of Kiev, Odessa is famed for its balmy climate which makes it a prime vacation spot for Ukrainians as well as a popular port of call for cruise ships plying the Black Sea. Locals and visitors alike crowd the beaches north of the city center, where thongs and Speedos are the norm – even for those who should know better. Beach-side cafes and discos are back to back with stands selling beer, ice cream and dried fish.
Deribasovskaya Street is the very heart of Odessa. What lends Deribasovskaya its unique character is magnificent architecture, crowds of people leisurely sitting on terraces of numerous cafes and restaurants, perfect cobblestones, no vehicle traffic and big shady linden trees. This special character has survived even through the Soviet times when conforming Soviet canons was highly recommended.
Deribasovskaya leads to the City Gardens with its fountain, old summerhouse and sculpture of lion and lioness. City Gardens were laid out shortly after the foundation of Odessa and were its first park. The Souvenir Market with a crowd of artists and craftsmen demonstrating their works is situated there. Prices are really low, and some items are gorgeous. Bargains are common. Don’t miss it if you want to get originally Odessan souvenirs.
The cobblestone and tall acacia trees on Frantsuzsky Boulevard are most reminiscent of Old Odessa. This place was home to Odessa’s wealthy merchants in old days. Now the Boulevard is one of the most picturesque resort districts in Odessa. The cable car rides from the Boulevard down to the Lanzheron Beach. The steep hill parts the Frantsuzsky Boulevard from 3 beaches beneath. Paths and stairs lead downhill to the Sea through a green zone closed to vehicle traffic. It is a favorite sight for picnics.
Arcadia is the most developed beach in Odessa. It looks gorgeous in summer – plenty of flowers, shady trees, numerous restaurants and cafes with tidy sea view terraces. Being a little bit pricey, they are really good for drinks and snacks.
Besides swimming and sunbathing, you can rent paddleboats, rowboats and other sailing vehicles for moderate prices.
If you are taking kids, check out Tropicano Children World – probably, they would like it. There are several outdoor nightclubs by the beach in Arcadia.